NATO’s 16-country air combat exercises begin in Slovakia

NATO's air defence exercise, MACE XVI, began in Slovakia on Monday. Fourteen NATO countries and two allied states are taking part in the exercise which is designed to hone common procedures for planning and deploying tactical aviation within the air defence system, according to the Slovak Defence Ministry.

 "All the air equipment is being looked after by Sliac Airbase, with the command located in Zvolen and the ground equipment stationed at the training facility at Lest in Central Slovakia," said Slovak Lieutenant-Colonel Andrej Ulicny
A total of 660 military personnel are taking part in the manoeuvres, which involve Slovakia's MiG-29 fighters, F-16 jet fighters from Belgium, Denmark and Norway, DA-20 Falcons (Norway), Learjet 40s (Germany), RAFALEs (France), Gripens (Sweden), EA 18Gs (USA), C 130Js (Denmark) and Typhoons (Spain).
Meanwhile, in Lithuania, Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighter jets intercepted a Russian air force aircraft over the Baltic Sea on September 11, it was announced on Monday. Canada is participating in the NATO air policing mission in the Baltics as part of a four-month deployment to protect Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian airspace. The air policing force was established 10 years ago but was quadrupled after Russian forces seized Crimea from Ukraine in March. Portugal, the Netherlands and Germany also are participating in the current rotation.
The Antonov aircraft the Canadians intercepted had taken off from a Russian air base in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea bordering Poland and Lithuania. The Canadians have 'hot' weeks when they are on alert and 'cold' weeks when they conduct air combat training with other NATO forces. During their deployment in Lithuania, the Canadians have participated in air combat training with Polish, British, German, Dutch, Portuguese and French warplanes. Later this week they will be flying with Swedish and Finnish fighter jets over Estonia.