“The airplane has been stationed in the Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base in Šiauliai since the end of October, carrying out patrol and observation in the Baltic Sea,” the Defense Ministry’s Public Relations Department confirmed to BNS on Tuesday.
According to the ministry, Portuguese aviators who currently serve in the NATO air-policing mission in the Baltic states, use the aircraft as an additional NATO reassurance measure for the three Baltic nations.
Flightradar24 website providing live routes of airplanes on Tuesday pictured the Portuguese airplane flying above the Baltic Sea, entering the Lithuanian territory at the Klaipeda seaport, then heading south and turning back to Šiauliai at Alytus.
Portugal is performing the air-policing mission with six F-16 fighter-jets, in addition to four Canadian F-18 stationed in Lithuania.
On Oct. 17-24, Sweden performed a search for a submarine, which was the largest operation since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990s.
Swedish army officials did not accuse any country of intrusion, although many Swedish defense analysts say the submarine at issue was probably from Russia.
Asked by BNS whether the dispatch of the Portuguese reconnaissance airplane for observing the Baltic Sea had to do with the incident of the Swedish coasts, Lithuania’s Defense Ministry replied: “The P-3 was dispatched in accordance to NATO’s decision to step up the air-policing mission in the Baltic states by way of performing reconnaissance flights above the Baltic Sea.”