The air forces of several NATO member states were joined by Sweden and Finland for an air policing exercise, called Ramstein Alloy, which will take place around the Baltic Sea.
Between April 20 and 21, 2021, Italy, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania trained with their allies, covering several real-world scenarios faced by personnel deployed in support of the Baltic Air Policing mission. Among them, pilots practiced a “slow-moving intercept of an AN-2 and civilian communication loss with escort.” Over 16 fighter jets were involved, including the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen and the Finnish F/A-18 Hornet.
The Ramstein Alloy exercise takes place three times a year to reinforce interoperability between NATO members and partner countries in the Baltic Sea region. The entire exercise was led by the NATO Joint Air Operations Center in Udem, Germany. The scenarios took place in the airspace of Latvia.
The Baltic Air Policing mission started in 2004 when the Baltic States joined NATO. It is one of the main missions of NATO air forces, which protects Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian airspaces from incursions, as these countries have no airborne capability of their own.
In 2020, NATO air forces across Europe reported having scrambled more than 400 times to intercept unknown aircraft approaching the airspace they cover. Almost 90% of these missions ‒ around 350 ‒ were Russian military aircraft.