The Nato Baltic air policing mission has been handed over to the Belgian Air Force at a ceremony held at the Lithuanian Armed Forces’ Šiauliai Lithuanian Air Force Base (AFB).

With the handover, the incoming contingent of the Belgian Air Force has taken the responsibility of the Nato mission from the servicemen deployed with the Portugal Air Force and the Spanish Air Force.

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For the fourth time, servicemen from the Belgian Air Force, together with four F-16 Fighting Falcon multirole fighter jets, will be deployed to the Nato Baltic air policing mission in Lithuania.

The country has participated in three air policing missions that were carried out to ensure the security of the Nato eastern boarders from Estonia.

“Since May, the air policing mission was being carried out by the outgoing Portuguese contingent using four F-16 aircraft.”

With rotation beginning from 1 September, Belgian servicemen travelled to Lithuania from home stations in Kleine Brogel and Florennes air bases.

The mission in the Baltic region will be supported and strengthened by the German Air Force contingent deployed in Estonia, together with four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft.

This is the ninth time the German Air Force is participating in the Nato air policing mission in the Baltic states.

Since May, the air policing mission was being carried out by the outgoing Portuguese contingent using four F-16 aircraft.

Spanish servicemen who participated in the mission helped protect the Baltic airspace with six Eurofighter Typhoons.

In total, the Nato Baltic air policing mission augmentation included approximately 130 servicemen.

Supervised by Nato’s Allied Air Command based in Ramstein, Germany, the Baltic mission is controlled by two Combined Air Operations Centers located in Uedem, Germany and Torrejon, Spain.