21:56 GMT15 May 2021
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    HELSINKI (Sputnik) - The Italian air force will replace Germany's contingent in Estonia as part of a NATO mission to protect the airspace over the Baltic states starting next week, the Estonian Defense Forces said on Friday.

    Italy's F-35 Lightning II fighter jets landed at the Amari airbase near the Estonian capital of Tallinn earlier in the day, the Estonian military said.

    "Italian Air Force pilots, along with F-35 Lightning II fighters, will replace the German air force's contingent with Eurofighter Typhoon fighters. Fifth generation fighters F-35 Lightning II will participate in the Baltic air policing mission for the first time," the Defense Forces said in a press release.

    NATO launched the Baltic Air Policing mission in 2004 so that allies can send forces to patrol the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which do not have fighter jets of their own. German pilots assumed the task of protecting Baltic airspace last August, replacing the French air force and its Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets.

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    Tags:
    Germany, NATO, NATO Forces, Italian Army, Italy, Estonian Defense Forces, Estonian Air Force, Estonian military, Estonian Air, Estonia
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