March 12, 2004 (by Eric L. Palmer) - Denmark considers to send four F-16s to patrol Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia next month when the Baltic nations are set to join NATO, a Danish military spokesman said on Thursday.
The three former Soviet republics have invited NATO
to protect their air space, or rather, to deploy interceptor-fighters of a nearby NATO member.
They argue that they do not have air forces but they do have an enemy that can claim their skies. This "enemy" has not been identified, possibly out of diplomatic considerations.
The initiative fell on fertile soil. Denmarks leading news agency, Ritzaus Bureau, reported that on March 31 Lithuania would probably get the desired aid - four Danish fighters, a mobile radar and about 100 soldiers, pilots and technicians.
"The decision has yet to be made, and we are discussing this with the Atlantic Alliance," Lieutenant Colonel Hans-Christian Mathisen told, adding that "parliament must give its support to such a transfer."
has traditionally been very involved in the defense of the Baltic republics ever since their independence in 1991.
The Danish military has helped train Baltic officers, who are participating in the Danish battalions deployed in Kosovo and Iraq.
Later, on a rotation basis, Belgium
and the Netherlands
will send to the Baltic region similar forces.
This is considered in NATO as an ad interim decision. A final plan of protecting the air space of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Slovenia is to be passed after a NATO summit in Istanbul.