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Swedish air force conducts first visual identifications over Baltic Sea as NATO member

For the first time as a NATO member, Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft launched under NATO arrangements to safeguard the skies over the Baltic Sea flying along with German and Belgian quick reaction alert aircraft.

On the morning of 11 March, NATO radar operators detected an unknown track over the Baltic Sea, travelling from Kaliningrad towards mainland Russia. Subsequently, the controllers at NATO’s CAOC in Uedem coordinated with Swedish NATO jets stationed in Sweden and ordered Belgian F-16 fighter jets to launch from Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania. Both Allies visually identified a Russian Tu-134 aircraft that was not on its flight plan.

Later in the day, another track of a Russian An-26 showed on NATO’s radar screens and the CAOC alerted the German Quick Reaction Alert Interceptors at Lielvarde to launch and establish further details of the track. The Swedish JAS-39 Gripen jets were also launched and both Allies conducted a visual identification of a Russian military aircraft type An-26 and escorted the plane.

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