The Polish Air Force which provided the reinforcement of the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states conducted from Lithuania took over the lead of the mission from Hungary on December 1. The Polish with four F-16 fighter aircraft will be reinforced by a French Air Detachment with four Rafale fighter jets, France’s most powerful fighter aircraft never deployed to Lithuania before.
“The importance of NATO’s air defence today can not be overstated. Countries agreed to step up deterrence and defence, including in air domain, back in Madrid. We acknowledge that air defence capabilities should have a stronger role in ensuring security in the Baltic region,” Vice Minister of National Defence Vilius Semeška said at the hand over-take over ceremony.
The changeover ceremony of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission took place at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai with attendance of Vice Minister of National Defence Vilius Semeška, representatives of the Ministry of Defence of Hungary, representatives of the Allied Air Command, ambassadors, representatives is of Šiauliai City and other guests.
The outgoing Hungarian rotation conducted the mission with fourJAS-39 Grippen fighter aircraft and approx. 150 military personnel – pilots, technicians medical personnel, support , communications personnel, other specialists.
Over the course of the rotation the Allied military personnel had community engagement activities with Šiauliai residents, hosted student and pupil tours and attended city events, supported Šiauliai delayed development infant facility.
Augmentation of the NATO Air Policing Mission from the Amari Air Base of the Estonian Air Force is provided by the German Air Force Detachment with four Eurofighter fighter jets.
Photo credits: MoD / K. Kavolėlis