Allied fighter jets on the NATO Air Policing mission scramble for the skies in an exercise to respond to airborne threats in the Baltic Region
Every day, NATO Allies’ fighter jets are on alert to secure Allied skies against external aggression or unpredictable behaviour. NATO Air Policing mission is on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If unidentified air traffic passes through or near NATO airspace, fighters assigned to this mission can scramble to intercept and verify its identity. This is a standing peacetime task that has been carried out for decades.
At NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltics, for example, Allies regularly scramble to intercept Russian military traffic transiting the Baltic Sea. When these jets don’t respond to hails from air traffic controllers, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centres order jets to scramble from Estonia and Lithuania to verify their identity. Currently, Portugal and Romania are covering this mission with F-16 Fighting Falcons flying from Šiauliai Airbase in Lithuania.
Since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Allies have stepped up patrols in the eastern part of the Alliance to ensure that NATO can defend its skies on short notice. Some of these patrols are supported by aerial refuellers like the A-330 Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT ~ aircraft, an asset collectively owned by a handful of NATO Allies.
This recent NATO Multimedia footage, released yesterday, includes Allied fighter jets from Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania and the United Kingdom, and fighter jets from NATO invitee Sweden conducting airborne operations. With soundbites from the commander of the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Uedem, and from the commanders of the Portuguese and Romanian F-16 detachment in Lithuania.
- 00:00 ~ A330 multirole tanker transport aircraft at Eindhoven airbase
- 00:06 ~ Dutch air force pilots inside the cockpit of a A330 multirole tanker transport aircraft prepare to take off
- 00:24 ~ Dutch air force pilots inside the cockpit of a A330 multirole tanker transport aircraft in preparation of a formation exercise with Dutch fighter jets
- 00:47 ~ Dutch air force F-16s
- 01:04 ~ German air force Eurofighter Typhoons
- 01:41 ~ Dutch pilots inside the cockpit of a A330 multirole tanker transport aircraft in preparation of a formation exercise with Polish fighter jets.
- 01:53 ~ Polish air force F-16s
- 02:12 ~ Portuguese air force F-16s
- 02:35 ~ Line up of Finnish Portuguese, Romanian fighter jets deployed in Šiauliai air base, Lithuania.
- 02:40 ~ Line up of Finnish F/A-18s in Šiauliai air base, Lithuania.
- 02:50 ~ Romanian air force F-16s in Šiauliai air base, Lithuania.
- 02:54 ~ Launch scramble alert goes off in Šiauliai air base, Lithuania.
- 03:00 ~ Romanian air force F-16 crew scrambles
- 03:54 ~ Romanian air force F-16 takes off
- 04:01 ~ UK Royal Air Force Eurofighter typhoons
- 04:09 ~ Romanian air force F-16
- 04:22 ~ Finnish air force F/A-18s
- 04:37 ~ Finnish air force F-18 in pre-contact refuelling position with the multirole tanker transport aircraft hose and drogue unit
- 04:43 ~ Finnish air force F-18 in refuelling position with the multirole tanker transport aircraft hose and drogue unit
- 04:53 ~ Swedish air force JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft
- 05:07 ~ Soundbite – Colonel Cosmin Vlad, Commander of the Romanian F-16 detachment in Lithuania
- 05:27 ~ Soundbite – Colonel Cosmin Vlad
- 06:00 ~ Soundbite – Callsign ‘Viriato’, Commander of the Portuguese F-16 detachment in Lithuania
- 06:24 ~ Soundbite – Callsign ‘Viriato’
- 07:00 ~ Soundbite – Major General Harold van Pee, Commander of NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem
- 08:01 ~ Soundbite – Major General Harold van Pee
- 09:01 ~ Soundbite – Major General Harold van Pee
- 09:21 ~ Soundbite – Major General Harold van Pee