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U.S. Navy prepares for BALTOPS Baltic Sea exercise in June

NATO's BALTOPS 50 air and maritime exercise, involving 18 NATO and partner nations, begins on June 6, the U.S. Navy announced on Monday. Photo courtesy of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1
NATO's BALTOPS 50 air and maritime exercise, involving 18 NATO and partner nations, begins on June 6, the U.S. Navy announced on Monday. Photo courtesy of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1

May 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy announced plans on Monday for the 50th Baltic Operations, a 13-day multinational exercise in the Baltic Region, to begin on June 6.

BALTOPS will involve 18 NATO and partner nations, bringing together 40 maritime units, 60 aircraft and 4,000 personnel, a Navy statement said, in an exercise promoting flexibility and interoperability.

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Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States will participate in the exercise.

The United States will lead the annual event, one of 20 key NATO exercises scheduled in 2021.

"Air and maritime assets from NATO allies and partner nations are involved in the live training events," Navy officials said in the statement.

"Training focus areas include integration of air defense, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction, mine countermeasure, and amphibious operations," according to the statement.

The exercise has been held since 1972 in the Baltic Sea, which borders Russia and five NATO countries.

The area has been the site of numerous Russian military flyovers, most recently in April, which have aroused the attention of NATO and the U.S. Northern Command.

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In one instance in March, NATO fighter jets scrambled 10 times in the course of six hours to intercept six different groups of Russian military aircraft approaching NATO airspace over the North Atlantic Ocean.

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