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The decision that the Baltic states should co-ordinate the surveillance activity of the radars on their territories and information thereby obtained was made in 1994.

The BALTNET co-operation project was launched in 2000. BALTNET is a system for acquisition, co-ordination, distribution and display of air surveillance data within the three Baltic states. Its objectives encompass international co-operation between civilian and military authorities in the field of air traffic and the development of the respective functions in all participant states.

BALTNET combines efforts of many states and is a part of a more extensive international plan with the goal to develop air surveillance and air control expertise in Central and Eastern Europe. Developing interoperability, BALTNET should help the Baltic states to integrate with NATO structures and facilitate economical use of resources.

  • 1994-1995 – The decision to establish an integrated air surveillance system in the Baltic states is made.
  • 1996 – The Government of the United States decides to extend its Regional Airspace Initiative to the Baltic states.
  • 3 April 1997 – The Baltic Defence Ministers decide to locate the Regional Airspace Surveillance Co-ordination Centre (RASCC) in Lithuania.
  • Spring 1997 – The BALTNET Steering Group and the Technical Sub-Group are established under Norwegian chairmanship.
  • End of 1997 – The US Congress approves the funding for establishing air surveillance centres in the Baltic states.
  • 16 April 1998 – The Baltic states sign an intergovernmental agreement on the establishment of BALTNET.

System and organisation of BALTNET

The framework agreement of BALTNET signed on 16 April 1998 foresees the establishment of the Regional Airspace Surveillance Co-ordination Centre (RASCC) in Lithuania which would receive, process and display primary and secondary radar data in the three Baltic states, initiate tracking and identification of all aircraft in radar coverage and co-ordinate the exchange of regional information with third parties.

The integrated information enables the respective authorities of the Baltic states to view, identify and monitor air traffic across the entire region.
In addition to the RASCC, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will each establish their own national air surveillance centres which receive and display the RASCC’s general integrated airspace picture and provide backup in case of the malfunctions of the RASCC. The national radar stations are also used to process and display surveillance data received from other radar stations on the territory of the state.

Radar data provided to BALTNET remain national property of the providing state, but BALTNET assets can be used for an exchange of air picture with NATO and/or individual countries. BALTNET is administered using a joint structure formed of the representatives of the three Baltic states located at the RASCC.

NATO standards and procedures are applied in the BALTNET system to the largest extent possible. This helps the Baltic states to achieve interoperability and compatibility with and integration into relevant NATO systems.

To support the BALTNET project the Baltic states are working together in planning the placement of radar sensors in the three states. This avoids unnecessary multiple radar coverage and ensures economical use of resources.

Year 1999 was of decisive importance for the BALTNET system. Then Lockheed/Martin completed the installation of the RASCC and the national centres, communications links between the RASCC and the national centres were established and the concept of operations and standard operating procedures were worked out. The legal and administrative frameworks still need to be completed.

According to current plans, work in BALTNET starts at the beginning of 2000. Sharing of valuable expertise is expected from the Central European countries which use similar installations.

BALTNET – training and support

The BALTNET Steering Group and the Technical Sub-Group working under Norwegian chairmanship co-ordinate the efforts of the states who assist Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the development of their air surveillance systems.

The international support involves training, provision of equipment and expertise.

The RASCC was established as a result of the US Regional Airspace Initiative study, placing the cornerstone for the launch of BALTNET. The US Government has allocated 10.3 million dollars for the procurement of equipment for the establishment of the RASCC and the national centres. The US Government has contracted Lockheed/Martin for the installation of the centres. Norway is providing assistance in the establishment of the communications links between the RASCC and the national centres.

Supporting countries have also assisted in the development of the concept of operations and standard operating procedures for the BALTNET system.

The Baltic states are working closely with NATO’s Committee for European Airspace Co-ordination and the NATO Air Defence Committee in air surveillance and air defence matters.

Estonia and BALTNET

The BALTNET project is included in the list of Estonia’s short-term strategic priorities as an important step towards achieving full airspace control. It is also vital for the development of the Estonian Air Force and the creation of the Estonian national air surveillance system.

Development of the national surveillance system is carried out in co-operation between civilian and military authorities. The system is a part of BALTNET, and receives, integrates and supplies data to all involved national agencies (Air Force, Civil Air Traffic Control, Border Guard, Maritime Administration). All central decisions on the construction and procurement of national surveillance equipment are made at the level of a special governmental committee.

The Estonian national centre of the BALTNET system was established in 1999 at the Ämari military airbase, 40 km from Tallinn.

As Estonia has not yet procured a military air surveillance radar, data to the BALTNET system are supplied by the radar of the civil air control centre. In March 1999 the Estonian Government decided to start preparations for the procurement of a modern surveillance radar in the coming few years.

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Last updated: 12. February 2020, 14:24

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