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NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States transferred to Hungary, Germany will provide augmentation


On August 31 Norway transferred the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States to Hungary at a formal Hand over - Take over (HOTO) ceremony at the Lithuanian Air Force Air Base in Šiauliai. This is the first time the Hungarian Air Force contributes air personnel and assets to the mission protecting the Baltic skies.


“Thanks to the NATO Air Policing Mission, as well as other NATO land and sea security assurance measures, people of the Baltic states feel safer. NATO Alliance is ready to respond – allies have clearly demonstrated it by sending addition forces immediately after the Russian annexation of Crimea. I am certain that the air policing mission will remain the brilliant example of solidarity among NATO members it is today,” Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas said at the ceremony.


The changeover of detachments ceremony was conducted in the presence of Minister of Defence of Hungary Dr. Csaba Hende, and civilian and military representatives of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Norway and Italy.


“We have completed the mission safely and successfully and we are proud that we had this opportunity to contribute actively to Alliance activities. The NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission demonstrates that the Alliance is capable and ready to conduct air policing tasks effectively and safely,” Commander of the Italian Air Force Detachment said after conducting the mission for four months. The Norwegian officer thanked Lithuanian and Italian troops for the support received over the mission duration. It was the third time Norway carried out the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States.


The latter rotation of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission carried out with four Norway’s F-16 fighter aircraft was augmented by military personnel and four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets of the Italian Air Force as well as military personnel and four Eurofighter Typhoons of the British Royal Air force from the Amari Air Base in Estonia. Roughly 200 alert and training scrambles were completed on the orders of the Combined Air operations Centre (CAOC), Uedem (Germany).


The current air policing rotation which started on September 1 is also conducted in an enhanced format: soldiers and four Eurofighter Typhoons of the German Air Force will strengthen the Hungarian detachment from Amari in Estonia. Allied air bases in Poland and Romania are also available for air policing augmentations if there is such a need.


The Baltic states seek that the main contingent of the NATO Baltic Air Mission operating from Šiauliai would be augmented with additional capabilities deployed in both, Estonia and Lithuania, and there are ongoing consultations with NATO allies regarding the matter. NATO allies and commands continually carry out assessments of the situation and are ready to deploy additional air assets to augment the mission promptly if needed.


NATO countries began sending military personnel and aircraft to guard Baltic states’ skies in March 2004, upon Lithuania’s, Latvia’s and Estonia’s NATO accession. In spring 2014, immediately after the Russian annexation of Crimea, NATO allies strengthened protection of the Baltic airspace, decisions to strengthen land and maritime security followed.


Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia cooperatively render comprehensive Host Nation Support and provide logistical support to all the deployed air capabilities for the total of up to annual EUR 15 million.


Photo credits:  Eugenijus Žygaitis

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