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Canada joins NATO mission to guard Baltic states' airspace

August 26, 2014, 15:23 UTC+3 VILNIUS
The Hornets' pilots at the Zokniai air base will be on a four-month-duty together with a Portuguese Air Force contingent
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© EPA/ADAM WARZAWA

VILNIUS, August 26. /ITAR-TASS/. Four F/A 18 Hornet fighters of the Canadian Air Force landed at a Lithuania's air base on Tuesday as Canada joined for the first time the NATO-led mission to guard the airspace of the Baltic states.

The Hornets' pilots at the Zokniai air base will be on a four-month-duty together with a Portuguese Air Force contingent due to arrive at the Lithuanian base for their second mission on August 29, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry reported.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia do not have required aircraft to protect their airspace. Their NATO partners have been sending to these countries four fighter jets every four months to patrol their airspace since 2004.

In March 2014, the NATO leadership decided to reinforce the mission to eight fighters while in April NATO said it would deploy more warplanes at Estonia's Amari airbase.

At Zokniai, the Canadian and Portuguese pilots will replace their Polish and British colleagues, while German fighters will replace Danish ones at Amari. The official rotation ceremony is scheduled for September 1.

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