November 29, 2004 (by Anonymous) - In response to a request from NATO, Norway is offering four F-16 fighter aircraft as a contribution to NATO's policing of the airspace in the Baltic area.
RNoAF F-16AM #286 at Hjerkinn range during M3 OT&T in March of 2004. [RNoAF photo]
Since the three Baltic countries became members of the Alliance in April, NATO
has been responsible for "air policing" in the Baltic area, and the task is taken on by member states in rotation. So far, fighter aircraft have been contributed by Belgium
and the United Kingdom, and other NATO countries will take over when the Norwegian
aircraft are brought home.
The background to NATO's involvement is that the three Baltic states do not possess the necessary military air control capabilities of their own. Since NATO now has a clear collective responsibility for the security of the new member countries, the present interim solution will be extended until permanent arrangements for the control of Baltic airspace have been put in place.
NATO has based its Baltic airspace policing on the provision of fighter aircraft, equipment and personnel by member countries on a 3-monthly rotational basis. This ensures an equitable sharing of the burden. So far this year, aircraft have been made available by Belgium, Denmark and the United Kingdom while Norway
will be ready to take over during the first quarter of 2005. Plans are being made in Norway to make available four F-16 fighter aircraft together with the necessary aircrew and ground staff to operate them.
Norway has also contributed an Air Control Unit which has been on deployment in the Baltic area since April. This deployment is to be extended until the end of March.