May 2, 2014

Sweden opens airspace to NATO AWACS aircraft

Sweden is to open up its airspace to Boeing E-3 AWACS aircraft operated by NATO as the crisis between Russia and Ukraine continues.
Citing the increased military activity in Sweden's immediate surroundings as a result of Russia's assault on Ukraine, the government is to allow AWACS aircraft to transit its airspace once every two days from 8 May to 31 May while routing between Norway and Poland.
The offer has been made specifically for NATO-operated AWACS aircraft, as opposed to AWACS aircraft operated by NATO member nations France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These nationally operated platforms have been patrolling the airspace bordering Ukraine since mid-March, but do not require routing via Swedish airspace.
The Swedish offer comes at a time of heightened air activity by NATO members in the face of the continuing crisis with Russia.
On 1 May the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission based in Lithuania formally transitioned from the US Air Force (USAF) and its reinforced contingent of 10 Boeing F-15C Eagle fighters to the Polish Air Force with its four MiG-29 fighters. These Polish MiGs are being supported by four UK (RAF)Typhoons, and four Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) F-16 Fighting Falcons flying out of Estonia (with two more on standby in Denmark).
Three days prior to this handover, on 28 April, four French Air Force Rafale fighters arrived in Poland , while on 29 April six Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Boeing CF-18 Hornet fighters departed for Romania, ostensibly for NATO training.
These further aircraft are in addition to the 18 USAF F-16s stationed in Poland and Romania, and the four Czech Gripens which have been offered to support countries bordering Ukraine.

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