The 48th rotation of detachments contributing to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission is imminent, say the Alliance.
From September 2018, the Belgian Air Force will take the lead over the mission at Šiauliai, Lithuania, while the German Air Force will augment out of Ämari, Estonia.
This is the seventh time the Belgian Air Force will deploy to the NATO mission with F-16 fighter jets, airmen and equipment. The detachment will come from both fighter bases at Florennes and Kleine Brogel and stay until the end of the year. In March 2004, Belgium was the first nation to be responsible for safeguarding the airspace of the three Baltic States since their accession to NATO.
The German Air Force is going to augment the mission from Ämari Air Base, Estonia with Eurofighter Typhoons and its personnel from 74th Tactical Air Force Wing at Neuburg, Germany. It will be the German Air Force’s fourth time as augmenting nation and their ninth contribution to the mission over all. For the second time after 2016 the German Air Force is going to execute the NATO mission for two rotations in a row, from September 2018 to April 2019.
The rotation will replace detachments of the Portuguese, Spanish and French Air Forces which have been conducting the mission since May 2018.
NATO say Air Policing is a 24/7 collective peacetime mission overseen by Allied Air Command and tactically controlled by two Combined Air Operations Centres at Uedem, Germany and Torrejon, Spain. For all Allies that don’t have their own Air Policing capability, like the three Baltic States, agreements exist to maintain a standard of airspace security ensuring the integrity and protection of Allies’ airspace.