On May the 1st the Spanish Air Force is to take over the lead of Baltic Air Policing, NATO’s mission safeguarding the airspace over the Baltic Allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
NATO say that the Spanish Air Force will lead the 53rd Baltic Air Policing rotation with an F-18 detachment at Šiauliai with the Royal Air Force and the French Air Force augmenting the mission at Ämari.
The Spanish F-18 fighter home base is Zaragoza Air Base in the northeast of the country some 300 km away from the Capital Madrid.
“My country will be actively supporting the mission almost three and half thousand kilometres away from Zaragoza, home to our wing back in Spain, while at the same time ensuring Air Policing at home,” said the Spanish Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jesus Gutierrez Gallego.
“For the third time, after 2006 and 2016, we are leading the mission here in Lithuania; we also augmented the Baltic Air Policing capability flying out of Ämari, Estonia in 2015 and 2017 and Šiauliai in 2018 and 2019,” he said,
NATO Air Policing is a peacetime collective defence mission involving the use of the air surveillance and control system, air command and control and appropriate air defence assets, including interceptors, for the purpose of preserving the integrity of NATO airspace.
For NATO nations that do not have the necessary air capabilities, agreements exist to ensure a single standard when it comes to safeguarding the airspace across all European Allies.