Amari, Estonia - As from Tuesday 6 January 2016, a Belgian detachment has taken part in
the 40th rotation of NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission with four
F-16s fighter jets flying out of Ämari Air Base, Estonia. The Belgian crew comprised
of 50 experienced service members and their airplanes will stand alert around
the clock, seven days a week until the end of April.
It's the fifth time since 2004 – Belgium being the first Ally to start
the Baltic Air Policing mission – that aircraft from the Belgian Air Component
are deployed to guard the Baltic skies against unauthorized overflights. During
previous rotations Belgian F-16s operated out of Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania
and Malbork Air Base in Poland. This time their temporary home base is Ämari in
Belgian Detachment Commander, Captain Davy 'Blanky' Blancquaert,
in his F-16 fighter aircraft getting ready for a scramble under NATO's Baltic
Air Policing detachment.
Photo courtesy Belgian Air Force
"The aircraft flew in from the Belgian air bases Florennes and Kleine
Brogel on 4 January," said Captain Davy 'Blanky' Blancquaert, Detachment Commander at Ämari. "Upon our arrival
in Estonia some harsh winter conditions with freezing temperatures and lots of
snow provided a challenging setting. However, both aircraft and crew adapted
well and proved they are always ready." On several occasion they successfully
executed training missions as well as some real scrambles intercepting Russian
aircraft flying in international airspace at the Baltic borders.
Nice picture frame – A Belgian F-16 fighter aircraft on full
afterburner viewed from a shelter at Ämari Air Base, Estonia.
courtesy Belgian Air Force
NATO's Air Policing
across the airspace of all Allies is a purely defensive activity preserving the
integrity of that airspace. It is an important confidence building measure to
demonstrate Alliance solidarity and resolve.
Story by Belgian Air Force Detachment at Ämari Air Base, Estonia