Belgian Air Force concludes NATO deployment in Baltics

A detachment of Belgian F-16s today concludes an eight-month deployment to Estonia. The detachment was already present in Estonia when

A NATO deployment in Baltics will finish an eight-month long mission amid a battle for air supremacy in Ukraine.

Photo: AFP

A detachment of Belgian F-16s today concludes an eight-month deployment to Estonia.

The detachment was already present in Estonia when Russia invaded Ukraine in February. It was relieved by a contingent of French Mirage 2000-5s in April and the Belgian F-16s were reassigned to Baltic airspace patrols where in less than four months they flew 340 sorties and accumulated almost 850 flying hours.

Despite Russia’s technologically superior air force, neither it nor Ukraine has achieved complete air superiority. This is largely due to military aid Ukraine has received through NATO. The US, for example, provided Kiev an $820 million aid package at the beginning of this month, which included surface-to-air missiles, and has contributed over $6 billion in total war aid.

This support strengthens Ukraine’s attritional strategy but ultimately increases the likelihood of an armed confrontation between Russia and NATO. Therefore, expect NATO in the medium-term to continue funnelling support to Ukraine while simultaneously bolstering its defenses in the event Moscow attempts to deter further support for Kiev by escalating its military posture toward NATO. Part of NATO’s defensive strategy will also include improving inter-alliance operability; the US, for example, announced an $8 billion F-35 sale to Germany on Thursday.