Pentagon more than doubling jets in NATO air policing mission

by Reuters
Wednesday, 5 March 2014 19:51 GMT

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) - The Pentagon is more than doubling the number fighter jets it is sending to a NATO air policing mission in the Baltics and is sending one aerial refueling aircraft, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, part of Washington's response to the Ukraine crisis.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced plans earlier on Wednesday to bolster the decade-old NATO mission, which patrols skies over Baltic allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Pentagon will send six additional F-15 jets and one KC-135 refueling aircraft to augment the mission this week. The United States already provides four F-15 jets to the mission, which helps identify and respond to violations of Baltic airspace. (Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Bill Trott)