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Rotation ceremony of the air contingents conducting the Baltic Air Policing mission and a formal visit by the Czech Defence Minister in Šiauliai

2012.09.01
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On August 31 rotation ceremony of the air contingents deployed on the Baltic Air Policing mission conducted from the Lithuanian Air Force Air Base in Šiauliai – the Polish Air Contingent which has been guarding the Baltic skies for four months will be replaced by four Jas-39C “Gripen” fighters of the Czech Air Force.

 

The changeover ceremony will be attended by Minister of National Defence Rasa Juknevičienė, Minister of Foreign Affairs Audronis Ažubalis, Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic Alexandr Vondra, Operational Commander of Polish Armed Forces Lt Gen Edward Gruszka, and representatives of the embassies of the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, U.S.A., Hungary, and Sweden, and the city and district of Šiauliai.

 

The rotation ceremony will be followed by a bilateral meeting of Lithuanian and Czech Defence Ministers. Minister of National Defence R. Juknevičienė and Czech Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra will discuss bilateral defence relations of the countries, security situation in the region, the points of the NATO Air Policing and NATO exercises. Lithuanian Minister will also present Lithuania’s priorities of the Presidency of the European Council in 2013.

 

The 4-month duty period in the Baltic Air Policing mission will be implemented by over 60 troops of the Czech Air Force, the majority of which come from the 21st Tactical Air Base in Čáslav. The Czech unit will be under the command of Col Petr Lanči, Commander of the 21st Tactical Air Base of the Czech Air Force. The Czech contingent will deploy in Šiauliai with four Jas-39C “Gripen” fighters which have been used by the country’s Air Force since 2005.

 

Troops of the Czech Republic will conduct the Baltic Air Policing mission for a second time. They have already been ensuring the security of the Baltic skies in May-August of 2009.

 

NATO took the responsibility for the security of the Baltic airspace in March 2004 when Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia became NATO members. NATO allies deploy their air personnel and assets to conduct the Baltic Air Policing mission from the Lithuanian Air Force Air Base in Šiauliai on a rotational basis to fill in the Baltic States’ shortage of relevant aircraft for independent protection of national airspace.

 

NATO Air Policing mission the Baltic States has already been conducted by Belgian, Danish, Czech, UK, Spanish, U.S., Polish, Norwegian, Dutch, Portuguese, French, Romanian, Turkish, and German air contingents.

 

The air assets deployed on the mission maintain a permanent readiness posture to scramble at short notice and take deterrent of other actions against the trespassers.

 

This February the North Atlantic Council approved the Baltic Air Policing mission to be long-term. Before the extension the mission was mandated till 2014.

 

Media representatives who intend to take part in the rotation ceremony at the LITHAF Air Base on August 31 should register at 00370-41 59 21 51 or e-mail [email protected] (Air Base) before August 30, Thursday, 17.00. On August 31 media representatives should arrive at the Air Base (Lakūnų str. 3) at 10.40.

 

Photo by Jan Kouba (Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic) - JAS-39 “Gripen”.

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