The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have decided to ask NATO to continue patrolling their skies until 2018, when the three alliance newcomers expect to take over the job, an official said Friday.
"The chiefs of the Baltic defence forces decided to ask NATO to continue with the current air defence solution at least until 2018, under which other NATO members patrol our skies," Estonian military spokesman Andres Sang told AFP after a meeting of Baltic army leaders in Estonia.
"Meanwhile, the Baltic states will continue joint activities to enhance their air defence capabilities," Sang said.
"We will continue the development of the joint radar system Baltnet, carry on joint training and devise more long-term plans on how to carry on after 2018," he said.
The formal request to NATO will be made by the three governments later in the year, he said.
The current agreement over the NATO patrols runs out next year.
More established members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) have taken turns patrolling the air space of the three Baltic states since March 2004, when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the alliance.
Currently, France is policing the Baltic skies. Romania is due to take over in August.
The Baltic states, which regained their independence from the Soviet Union 16 years ago, lack sufficient aircraft and personnel to run the patrols themselves.
Source : AFP