The Polish Air Force took over the responsibility for leading NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission out of Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, from the Belgian Air Force on the 3rd of January 2019.
The Alliance say that a traditional handover/takeover ceremony has been conducted at the Lithuanian Air Base every four months since 2004.
“The Polish Air Force was the eighth Ally to assume the mission at the end of 2005 and has now returned to accomplish the task for the first four months in 2019.”
According to a news release, General Tod D. Wolters, Commander Allied Air Command welcomed the Polish Air Force detachment and four F-16 fighter aircraft. He also commended the Belgian detachment for keeping the Baltic Airspace safe conducting more than 20 alert scrambles during their four months of duty.
General Wolters thanked Lithuania for having seamlessly provided Host Nation Support to the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States for 15 years already.
“For almost 70 years our great NATO Alliance has provided collective security in the transatlantic area. During these decades Air Power has been and will continue to be the key capability package for NATO to provide collective defence, deterrence and security to all its Allies.”
“The NATO Air Policing Mission is proof of Allied solidarity,” said the Lithuanian Minister of Defence Raimundas Karoblis.