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US F-16 fighter planes to patrol airspace of 3 Baltic nations

September 23, 2005 (by Anonymous) - USAFE F-16s will take over the duties from the German air force to patrol the airspace of three Baltic nations starting from the end of this month, the US embassy in Lithuania said Wednesday.

A hand-over ceremony between the US and German air forces will be held at an air base in Siauliai, northern Lithuania, on Sept. 30, a spokesman for the embassy said.

F-16CJ's from the 52nd fighting wing based in Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, will be responsible for policing the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The F-16s will be stationed at Zoknia air base in Lithuania. Military personnel will do most of the monitoring on the ground. If a suspicious plane enters the airspace of one of the countries, airmen would scramble F-16s to intercept that plane.

The airspace of the three Baltic states has been patrolled by NATO countries on a rotating basis after these countries joined NATO in March 2004.

The 52nd Fighter Wing is the largest fighter operation in Germany and the most versatile wing in U.S. Air Forces in Europe, with three fighter squadrons and an air control squadron.