Poland takes over Nato air policing mission in Baltic states

3 January 2019 (Last Updated January 3rd, 2019 09:39)

The Polish Air Force is taking over the command of the Nato air policing mission in the Baltic states from the Belgian Air Force.

Poland takes over Nato air policing mission in Baltic states
The Polish Armed Forces is deploying four F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft to protect Baltic airspace. Credit: Lt Arnas Glazauskas / Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania.

The Polish Air Force is taking over the command of the Nato air policing mission in the Baltic states from the Belgian Air Force.

The handover ceremony that will see the Polish F-16 detachment take responsibility for the Nato mission will be held at the Lithuanian Air Force Air Base in Šiauliai.

The latest deployment of four F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft represents the eighth time Poland is deploying a rotation of the Nato air policing mission in the Baltic states.

Poland’s first contribution to the Baltic mission began in 2005 with MiG-29 Fulcum fighter aircraft. For the subsequent rotations, it used F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets.

The country is planning to deploy another air policing detachment in 2020.

“The Nato mission was launched to offset the absence of necessary air capabilities among the airforces of the three Baltic states.”

Meanwhile, the German Air Force will continue to provide the augmentation to this rotation with five Eurofighter Typhoons to be flown from Estonia.

Germany and Belgium took over the Nato-led Baltic air policing mission from France, Spain and Portugal in August last year.

The German Air Force replaced French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 fighters with Eurofighter aircraft to augment the Baltic peacetime mission, which began in 2004 when Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia became members of Nato.

Belgium has been supporting Nato’s mission in securing the skies over the three nations since it began. To date, the Belgian Air Force detachment has deployed a total of eight rotations.

The Nato mission was launched to offset the absence of necessary air capabilities among the airforces of the three Baltic states. Baltic airspace has been safeguarded by 17 allies.