Belgian jets assigned to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission intercepted Russian fighters as they conducted low passes over a US Navy destroyer on 17 April.
The Belgian F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighters launched from Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania, where the air policing mission is headquartered. They then intercepted the Russian aircraft – two Su-24 Fencer attack jets, one Su-27 Flanker air superiority fighter and one Su-30 Flanker-C multirole fighter – over the USS Donald Cook, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer manoeuvring in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Lithuania. The F-16s conducted the intercept in a safe and professional manner.
Air policing is a peacetime activity conducted 365 days a year over Alliance territory. Intercepts can be triggered when air traffic – civilian or military – does not respond to hails from air traffic controllers.