Portuguese P-3 Orion On Patrol Over The Baltics “Inadvertently” Violated The Finnish Airspace

A Portuguese P-3C Orion (Image credit: Wiki)

Looks like a Portuguese Maritime Patrol Aircraft operating out of Poland violated the airspace of Finland.

A Portuguese P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft, belonging to the 601st Squadron violated the Finnish airspace, claims the Finnish MoD according to a Navy Times report. The violation allegedly took place on Monday, 6AM, southwest of Helsinki. The matter is being looked into by both the Finnish border guard, as well as by the Portuguese Air Force officials that have already confirmed their plane  “inadvertently” strayed into Finland’s airspace without permission.

The intrusion was not deep – it is said to have been only 500 meters. Still, the violation is newsworthy because Finland has accused Moscow of several airspace violations in the recent past, but rarely accusations of alleged or actual intrusions have involved NATO aircraft.

The P-3 Orion mentioned above is involved in the enhanced NATO Baltic Air Policing operation, and it is stationed at the Malbork Airbase, alongside the Portuguese Air Force F-16s.

The Portuguese Air Force operates a fleet of P-3 Orion aircraft within the 601 Squadron “Lobos” (Esquadra 601), a maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare squadron based at Beja Air Base. The Portuguese Orion aircraft regularly operate in the Baltic region: some of you will probably remember the video of a Russian Su-27 Flanker intercepting a PoAF P-3 over the Baltic Sea in November 2014 because of the stunning hi-rez video of the close encounter filmed by one of the cameras carried by the MPA.

The Portuguese Air Force’s F-16AMs have now been stationed in Malbork since Mar. 1, 2019. The rotation involves four jets and support elements and it is scheduled to last until the end of April. This constitutes another enhancement of the NATO Baltic Air Policing operation, with the previous one taking place between 2014 and 2015, when French, Dutch and Belgian air assets were deployed on the Polish soil.

About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.