NATO has deployed six United States Air Force F-15 fighter jets to Estonia’s Amari Air Base, in addition to four already present Belgian Air Component F-16s. Meanwhile, Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania is awaiting Danish F-16s that are expected to arrive on January 27, 2022, and supplement Polish F-16s stationed there.
The addition of the F-15s increases the number of jets participating in Baltic Air Policing to 18, the largest number since 2015, when, in the aftermath of Russia’s takeover of Crimea, NATO rapidly increased its presence in the Baltics.
“Baltic and enhanced Air Policing are enduring NATO missions that deliver constant vigilance of Allied airspace and contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence posture. The additional aircraft will work closely with the current detachments to increase our readiness, build crucial interoperability and underline the robust solidarity across the Alliance,” Major General Jöerg Lebert, Chief of Staff of Headquarters Allied Air Command, is quoted in a press release.
According to a NATO spokesperson, the six additional F-15s will be deployed in Estonia until the end of the next week.
The presence of NATO fighter jets mirrors the buildup of Russian forces along the Ukrainian border, particularly in Belarus.
In preparation for the exercise ‘Allied resolve-2022′, Russia began to deploy Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to air bases in Belarus on January 26, 2022, which neighbors the Baltic states along its Western border, and Ukraine along the Southern border.
According to some reports, 12 Su-35s will be deployed, in addition to S-400 and Pantsir-C air defense systems.
On January 24, Dutch F-35 and Spanish Eurofighter Typhoons were deployed in Bulgaria, as tensions mount along the borders of Ukraine following the deterioration of talks between NATO and Russia.