The Hungarian Air Force has taken the lead role in Baltic air policing mission, replacing the Royal Norwegian Air Force in the task to ensure Nato’s airspace over the Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
As part of the new development, Hungary will deploy four JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft and more than 100 personnel including pilots, maintenance personnel, logistics specialists to the mission.
Lithuania National Defence Minister H.E. Juozas Olekas said: "I am confident that the air policing mission will remain a brilliant example of Nato’s credibility and solidarity among allies.
"This mission as well as other forms of Nato’s presence on land and at sea make the people of the Baltic States feel safer.
"Moreover, all these measures ensure deterrence and peace not only for the Baltic region, but also for the whole of Nato."
Hungary is the 16th Nato Ally to assume this task. The new development marks the 39th rotation of Baltic air policing mission and will commence duties through the end of this year.
The four Hungarian JAS-39 Gripen fighters will be augmented by four German Air Force Eurofighter jets who assumed the task from the UK Royal Air Force (RAF).
The RAF’s Typhoon detachment deployed to Amari air base in Estonia concluded its four month operation recently.
Nato allies started sending military personnel and aircraft to guard Baltic states’ skies in March 2004. In spring 2014, the allies strengthened protection of the Nato airspace after the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Image: JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft. Photo: © Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania.