The Belgian Air Component have handed over the Baltic Air Policing Mission to the Spanish Air Force, with the Royal Air Force also joining to enhance the mission.

According to the RAF here, the handover was marked by a small formal ceremony, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, where the Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force Colonel Guzas Dainius thanked the outgoing Belgian Air Force detachment for their outstanding support and warmly welcomed the RAF and Spanish Air Force to Siauliau Air Base and Lithuania.

“The RAF personnel begin their latest NATO Air Policing mission, against a background of the challenging circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EAW personnel together with their NATO colleagues have overcome these challenges by working together under the very stringent conditions that ensure safety for all as mandated UK and Lithuanian Governments to counter COVID-19.”

NATO conduct air policing missions in member states without aircraft capable of intercepting others.

Wing Commander Matt D’Aubyn, the Officer Commanding 6 Squadron RAF, said in a news release:

“This deployment is the latest RAF contribution to NATO Air Policing. As one of four front-line Squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth, we routinely conduct UK-based Quick Reaction Alert – on standby 24/7 to defend the Nation’s skies.

The NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltics is very similar to UK QRA, and my pilots and supporting personnel are experienced operators when it comes to completing this sort of task. Despite the difficult circumstances caused by COVID-19 we are well prepared and ready to deliver this mission.”

The 6 Squadron detachment will be augmented by other personnel from across the Service to form 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, say the RAF.

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Meirion X
Meirion X
4 months ago

Will there be banter between the Brits amd Spanish crews over Gibraltar,?
Or a mock dogfight in the air beween them?

dan
dan
4 months ago
Reply to  Meirion X

A game of Go Fish. Winner gets Gibraltar. lol

Bob
Bob
4 months ago

Freebies for Lithuania, eh? RAF jets and a free Royal Navy minesweeper.

Why do we stick our neck (and our wallet) our for freeloaders like these? As Brexit showed, it brings us no benefits.

dave12
dave12
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob

NATO members protect each other, Lithuania is on the front line to Russian soft power activities at the moment and will the front line if any thing gets harder and its a bit to early to judge Brexit as its showed nothing so far. it not being fully introduced yet.

SoleSurvivor
SoleSurvivor
4 months ago
Reply to  dave12

Russian soft power activities?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago
Reply to  dave12

I guess you mean Grey Zone activities Dave? Proxy forces? Green men? Cyber? Special Forces? Propaganda? Fake News?

Soft Power is a different thing entirely.

dave12
dave12
4 months ago

Yes Daniele that’s exactly what I mean.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago
Reply to  dave12

Thought so.

Harry Bulpit
Harry Bulpit
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Lithuania is by no means a freeloader. Its one of the few nato members that actually takes its commitment seriously., it is right next to Russia and as such they our not only vonrable but Russia is actively trying to assert its dominance on the region. Unfortunately however, the country’s doesn’t have a large economy so needs nato support. You know these free handouts go a long way to securing British influence around the world, even at the height of our power we gave free handouts to the empire. Or you could just continue your selfish and ignorant mindset and… Read more »

Trevor
Trevor
4 months ago
Reply to  Harry Bulpit

Fair comment

Meirion X
Meirion X
4 months ago
Reply to  Harry Bulpit

100% agreed Harry!

dave12
dave12
4 months ago
Reply to  Harry Bulpit

Well said Harry.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
4 months ago
Reply to  Harry Bulpit

Good points well made. I grew up when the Baltic States (in exile: see Smiley’s People …) were written off as far as independence was concerned. Their re-emergence as sovereign countries represents something important for us and indeed, those Russian people who reject Putin’s empire building.

Trevor
Trevor
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob

You are trying to say NATO gives us no benefits?
You are just ‘avin a laff.

Cam
Cam
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob

NATO actually cut our Navys size massively! We didn’t need the big fleets when we have allies patroling lots of the globe with us. Excuse to downsize massively. Sad! My only NATO criticism

Steve R
Steve R
4 months ago
Reply to  Cam

NATO didn’t do that.

Being flat broke at the end of WW2 and giving up the empire did that. Fewer territories to police requires fewer ships, and we couldn’t afford as many ships in the aftermath of the war.

After that it has been successive governments who have raided the defence budget to pay for more vote-winning departments and projects.

NATO wasn’t responsible for that.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Spot on. The second to last paragraph is primarily responsible. After the Cold War and during it when the empire was shed our forces were still considerable.

The 2004 and 2010 cuts were the worst.

Bob
Bob
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Because we are a nation that has always and continues to stand by our treaty obligations as a reliable ally. Without the knowledge that the UK does the right thing, always, our place in the world will be nothing and nations will never work with us again. Because NATO is a cornerstone of our Defence strategy upon which we rely to deter external and existential threats to our nation. Because Brexit enables the UK to be ‘Global Britain’ again and engagement militarily in support of those with shared interests is a key part of that. And freeloading? Lithuania had a… Read more »

julian1
julian1
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob

would you rather Lithuania still be under Russian sphere of influence? If that was the case, then these assets would be based in Poland or Germany. I rather thought the Lithuanians had paid for the minesweeper

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob

We are leaving the EU, not NATO. And countries like Lithuania have nothing like the capabilites we do.

Steve R
Steve R
4 months ago
Reply to  Bob

I’d say on this you clearly have no clue. Do you really expect Lithuania to have a military anywhere approaching the UK, France or Germany? The UK’s Gross National Income is over 120 times that of Lithuania. Their economy is a fraction of ours so of course their military budget will be a fraction of ours. Theirs is around £300 million per year. That wouldn’t pay for a single squadron of Typhoons. Even if it quadrupled their defence budget would be less than the price of a single Type 26 frigate. It is literally impossible for the likes of Lithuania… Read more »