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RNlAF to send four F-16s for Ukraine crisis air support

May 26, 2014 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Netherlands has decided to send four fighters in September in order to strengthen the air police mission in the Baltic states. The Dutch will also take the opportunity to train with colleagues from the Polish Air Force and with the AWACS radar aircraft.

RNlAF F-16AM #J-873 from 323 sqn flies by a KC-135 Stratotanker after being refuelled over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex during RED FLAG-Alaska 11-1 on April 28th, 2011. [USAF photo by SSgt. Miguel Lara III]

The Royal Danish Air Force has four F-16s located at Amari air base in Estonia. Four Polish air force MiGs are currently in place further south, at Siauliai air base in Lithuania, where four Typhoon FGR4s from the Royal Air Force will also be standing QRA until the end of August. If needed to further bolster this, four French air force Rafales now at Poland’s air base in Malbork can also be called forward.

The four Dutch F-16s are most likely to be stationed in the North of Poland.

In April this year the Pentagon already said it would extend its own deployment of 12 F-16 fighter jets to Poland through the end of the year, and encouraged other NATO allies to contribute to the detachment. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel then also pointed to Romania, saying it was the latest NATO member to acquire F-16s.

Last year the Dutch had already announced they would deploy F-16s to police the airspace of the 3 Baltic countries in the first quarter of 2017. This would have been a second time the Netherlands took on this NATO mission.

When the 3 Baltic countries joined NATO in 2004, it was agreed that they would not purchase any fighter aircraft. Other NATO member states would then take over the air policing tasks on a rotational basis. The Netherlands first took its turn from April to June 2005, deploying 4 F-16s and around 100 military personnel. That air force detachment operated from Šiauliai military airfield in Lithuania.

Additional images:

RNlAF F-16AMs approache a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft for in-flight refuelling during Exercise Red Flag-Alaska 11-1 over Eielson AFB on April 26th, 2011. [USAF photo by A1C. Laura Goodgame]

NATO QRA Baltics 2005 (Rene W. Kleingeerts Collection)

A Turkish F-16C block 40 from 162 Filo is spotted head-on during its air policing duties at Siauliai AB in Lithuania in early 2006. [Photo by Skylord]