RAMSTEIN, Germany - Belgian fighter jets on NATO duty intercepted Russian fighter aircraft over the Baltic Sea on Wednesday (6 December 2023). NATO radars had picked up unknown aircraft departing Kaliningrad and two Belgian Air Force F-16s were launched out of Šiauliai in Lithuania to investigate. They tracked and identified two Russian Su-30 fighter jets which were not in contact with civilian Air Traffic Control.
NATO routinely monitors military activities near its borders and Allied jets are on 24/7 standby to safeguard NATO airspace and preserve territorial integrity
Belgian F-16s were launched out of Šiauliai for their first alert scrambled within a week after taking over the lead of NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission.
Archive photo courtesy Belgian Air Force.
The Belgian F-16s, on December 6, intercepted and identified Russian fighters above the Baltic Sea in the vicinity of NATO airspace.
Photo courtesy Belgian Air Force.
NATO closely monitors air activity near its borders, and if necessary alerts and launches its fighter aircraft to visually identify unknown radar tracks like this Russian fighter aircraft on December 6. Photo courtesy Belgian AirForce.
The French Air and Space Force Mirage 2000-5 were alerted ready to take off for an identification, however, NATO controllers decided not to launch them but to continue to monitor via radars. Archive photo by the French Air and Space Force.
The intercept, which was also coordinated with the Swedish air force, was conducted in professional manner. Following the intercept, the Belgian jets returned to their base in Lithuania. Later in the day, French Air Force Mirage 2000-5s, currently also deployed to Šiauliai, were readied to investigate another Russian aircraft flying out of Kaliningrad. However, due to tactical development of the situation, the Mirages did not take off.
Fighter jets from Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and Türkiye took up NATO air policing duties on the Alliance's eastern flank starting in December. Wednesday’s mission was the first for the Belgian air force since taking up NATO duties and shows the readiness of NATO’s Air Policing system to respond quickly to situations that develop near NATO airspace. NATO routinely monitors military activities near its borders and Allied jets are on 24/7 standby to safeguard NATO airspace and preserve territorial integrity.