The Polish Air Force have taken over the augmenting role in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission during a ceremony held at Ämari Airbase, Estonia.
According to a NATO news release, the detachment of roughly 140 personnel and their F-16 fighter jets took over from a detachment of the Czech Air Force, which had been augmenting the mission from Ämari since August 2019.
“As usual the ceremony was attended by high ranking civilian and military guests, amongst them Permanent Secretary of the Estonian Ministry of Defence, Mr. Kristjan Prikk, the Estonian Air Force’s Chief of Staff, Brigadier General Veiko-Vello Palm as well as the Commander of the Polish Air Operations Centre and Air component Command, Major General Dariusz Malinowski and the Czech Air Chief, Major General Petr Hromek.”
The Alliance was represented by the Deputy Commander of NATO’s Northern Combined Air Operations Centre, Brigadier General Pilot Sławomir Żakowski. In a speech addressing the distinguished guests as well as the Airmen from Poland and the Czech Republic, he said:
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the outgoing Air Mission personnel on a job well done. The Polish Air Force has been a vital and experienced contributor to many NATO air missions.”
The lead of the mission remains with a detachment of the Belgian Air Force which will stay at Šiauliai Airbase, Lithuania for a double rotation of eight months straight until April 2020. From August until December 2019 the mission was also augmented by a third detachment from the Royal Danish Air Force, also based at Šiauliai.
Baltic Air Policing is a regionally specific part of NATO’s Air Policing mission which the Alliance say preserves the integrity, safety and security of the airspace over all European NATO Allies.