Hungary to lead Nato’s Baltic Air Policing mission

23 April 2019 (Last Updated April 23rd, 2019 09:42)

Hungary is set to take over the lead of Nato’s Baltic Air Policing mission from next month at Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania.

Hungary to lead Nato’s Baltic Air Policing mission
The fighter aircraft safeguarding the skies over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from May on for four months. Credit: Archive pictures Allied Air Command / Hungarian Air Force, Spanish Air Force.

Hungary is set to take over the lead of Nato’s Baltic Air Policing mission from next month at Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania.

The country will be assisted by Spain and the UK in their role as augmenting nations.

As the lead nation, Hungary will deploy the JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft to the Šiauliai base and an airforce detachment.

The latest deployment represents the second time since 2015 that Hungary will deploy its assets to lead the mission out of Lithuania.

Meanwhile, Spain will send its F-18 fighter jets to Šiauliai.

Spain has so far deployed six times to the mission, including twice as lead nation in 2006 and 2016 and three times as augmenting nation at Ämari Air Base in Estonia in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

The British Royal Air Force will be represented by the Eurofighter aircraft, which will fly out of the Ämari base.

“The two additional detachments deployed to the region in the next four months demonstrate collective resolve and deter any threat against Nato Allies.”

The UK served as the lead nation in 2004 and as an augmenting nation once in Siauliai in 2014 and twice in Ämari in 2015 and 2016.

According to Nato, this deployment will be the 50th fighter detachment deploying since 2004.

The objective of the air policing mission is to protect the airspace over the Baltic nations, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

In a statement, Nato said: “The two additional detachments deployed to the region in the next four months demonstrate collective resolve and deter any threat against Nato Allies.”

Nato introduced the Assurance Measures in 2014 as part of a Readiness Action Plan (RAP) to ensure readiness to respond swiftly to security challenges.

At the time, the organisation approved the deployment of additional fighter detachments to the region in response to Russia’s alleged illegal actions in Ukraine.

The statement added: “These additional assets allow Allied Air Command, via its Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, to employ assets more flexibly providing an air policing capability to safeguard Nato airspace in the Baltic Region.”