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Responsibility for the security of the Baltic airspace will be passed on to Portugal and Canada at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai

2014.08.31
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On September 1 air contingents conducting NATO’s Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States will rotate at a formal ceremony at Šiauliai Air Base of the Lithuanian Air Force. Poland and the United Kingdom which had strengthened Poland’s contingent will hand over the mission after a four-month tour of duty to Portugal with six F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets. The Portuguese air contingent will be augmented by four F-18 Hornets of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

 

The rotation ceremony will be attended by Vice Minister of National Defence Marijus Velička, Lieutenant General Joachim Wundrak, Commander of NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Colonel Audronis Navickas, Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force, Ambassador of the United States in Lithuania Deborah McCarthy, Ambassador of Poland Jaroslaw Czubinski, Ambassador of the United Kingdom David Hunt, Ambassador of Canada John Morrison, Commander of the Portuguese Air Force Colonel Alberto Francisco, representatives of Denmark and Estonia, defence attachés, representatives of the city of Šiauliai, and other guests.

 

This will be the second deployment of Portugal military to the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission. The majority of the incoming 70-strong air contingent (pilots, flight engineers, medical personnel, support units, specialists of communications and others areas) came from the permanent station in Monte Real (Portugal).

 

Canada will contribute to the Baltic air policing tasks for the first time and strengthen the mission conducted by Portugal. The Canadian air contingent is an element of the air component of Operation Reassurance committed by Canada to ensure security and stability in Middle and Eastern Europe in support of NATO.

 

The outgoing Polish and UK’s rotations with eight fighter aircraft (four Poland’s Mig-29s and four UK’s Eurofighter Typhoons) and roughly 200 personnel in total took up ensuring the security of the Baltic skies on April 30.

 

The mission in the Baltics that already spans a decade is more than security assurance; it is also a perfect example of commitments to collective defence. 14 NATO allies have deployed their air capabilities in 35 rotations over the period to patrol the Baltic airspace and ensure that Lithuania is secure. In its turn, Lithuania stands ready to render any host nation support necessary for NATO’s air contingents.

 

From September 1 the security of Baltic airspace will also be strengthened German troops deployed in Amari in Estonia and Dutch military stationed in the air base of the Polish Air Force in Malbork.

 

For the media:

 

Media representatives willing to take footage of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission at the Air Base in Šiauliai on September 1 should register no later than August 29, 1600 hrs at 00370-41 59 21 51 or [email protected] (Šiauliai Air Base). The registered media representatives should arrive at the Air Base (Lakūnų str.3) on September 1 no later than 1030 hrs.

 

Those going from Vilnius may use MoD transport, you should register at [email protected] no later than August 29, 1600 hrs (please indicate TRANSPORT in the subject box of your email). A limited number of places will be available. Departure time and location: September 1, 0730 hrs, parking ground in front of the Ministry of National Defence (Totorių str. 25).

 

Photo credit: Antanas Gedrimas (F-18 Hornet fighter jets of the Royal Canadian Air Force)

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