Portugal to take the lead of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission, Spain and France to send augmentation
On May 2 rotations conducting the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states will change over at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai. After four months of duty the Danish Air Force Detachment will hand over the mission to colleagues from Portugal and Spain. Portugal will head the 47th NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission and patrol the Baltic skies with four F-16s. Spain will deploy six Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft to Šiauliai and France – four Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets to the Amari Airbase in Estonia to augment the mission.
The NATO Air Policing Mission changeover ceremony in Šiauliai is expected to be conducted in the presence of Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas , Commander of the Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) and the U.S. Air Forces in Europe General Tod Wolters, ambassadors and soldiers of the countries contributing capabilities, Lithuanian Air Force leadership, representatives of the Latvian and the Estonian Air Forces, representatives of the city of Šiauliai, and other guests.
Portugal is contributing air force capabilities to the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states for the fourth time. The present Portuguese rotation is deployed majorly from Monte Real homebase and comprises up to 90 members – pilots, technicians, medical personnel, support teams, specialists of communications and other areas.
Soldiers of the Royal Spanish Air Force are taking part in the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states for the fifth time. They were in the lead of the mission in 2005 and 2016, and augmented the mission from Amari in Estonia in 2015 and 2017. The present 130-strong rotation will deploy from Moron homebase near Seville.
The outgoing Royal Danish Air Force Detachment was protecting the Baltic skies with four F-16s, 200 troops deployed at a time rotated every months. Denmark’s military personnel also communicated with the community of Šiauliai, donated to Šiauliai Orphanage, hosted schoolchildren and students excursions.
The third unit to join he NATO Air Policing Mission from Spain is NATO allies’ additional proposal regarding the mission and is deploying in the framework of the Enhanced Air Policing (eAP). A strengthened NATO Air Policing Mission in Šiauliai will ensure greater flexibility to NATO allies guarding the Baltic airspace as well as better opportunities for training with the Baltic airspace surveillance and control units, Baltic and allies’ land and maritime units, and training delivering air support to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Groups in the Baltic states and Poland.
Augmentations of the peacetime NATO air defence mission send a clear message of deterrence and collective defence to all potential aggressors.
The Enhanced Air Policing detachments are sent as part of the NATO Security Assurance Measures 2014 in the Baltic region to the air bases in Amari (Estonia), Šiauliai (Lithuania) and Malbork (Poland). The presence of detachment in Amari has already become continuous. The augmentations in Šiauliai and Malbork depend on the need (last augmentation was deployed to Malbork in September 2017, and to Šiauliai – in 2015).