Hungarian Minister of Defence Csaba Hende, on a visit to Estonia today, announced at a meeting with Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu that Hungary would contribute its fighter aircraft to NATO’s Baltic air policing mission.
Hungary will bring its Jas Gripen fighters to patrol Baltic airspace in the latter half of 2015. Defence Minister Hende said the Hungarian Air Force was awaiting the opportunity to serve on the Baltic air policing mission.
Defence Minister Urmas Reinsalu said he welcomed Hungary’s joining the ranks of the countries participating in the air policing mission. “The NATO airspace policing mission gives Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania control of its airspace. The allied fighter aircraft flying in our skies are the most direct sign of NATO’s presence,” said Reinsalu.
After the meeting, the defence ministers paid a visit to the Freedom Square where they laid wreaths at the foot of the Cross of Liberty monument honouring the War of Independence.
The Hungarian defence minister also met the commander-in-chief of the Estonian Defence Forces, Brigadier General Riho Terras, with whom he discussed Hungary’s contribution to the Tallinn-based NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and the role of both countries in the on-going operation in Afghanistan.
Brig. Gen. Terras gave Hende an overview of the activities of Estonian units in Afghanistan, the ten-year development plan for the Estonian Defence Forces, and reservist training.
Defence Minister Hende’s schedule also included a visit to the NATO Cyber Defence Centre and the Seaplane Harbour.
The Hungarian defence minister departed in the evening of January 18.