From September, the Italian and German Air Forces with Eurofighter jets will take over the patrolling in the Baltic Air Policing Mission. They have replaced the contingents of Spain, the United Kingdom and France who have completed their mission. The new rotation will be led by Italy from the Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base in Šiauliai, and the augmentation to the mission will be provided by the Germans stationed at the Estonian Air Force Aviation Base in Amari.
“The Baltic Air Policing Mission is one of the best examples of NATO unity, demonstrating the Alliance’s commitment to security. This is also shown by the readiness of the Italian and German Air Forces to carry out the air policing mission in the Baltic region as planned, despite the coronavirus pandemic. For our part, we seek to provide our partners with the best conditions for carrying out the mission from the Air Force Base in Šiauliai,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says.
On 1 September, the Italian contingent preparing to take over the mission participated in the air police mission contingent handover ceremony in Šiauliai together with the contingents of Spain and the United Kingdom completing the mission.
Italy, which has assigned a core contingent, will start the air policing mission on 8 September due to military operational requirements. Until then, all functions of the mission will be provided by the augmenting German air police contingent stationed in Estonia.
Italy and Germany are scheduled to participate in two consecutive four-month rotations in the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States.
This will be the fourth time for Italy and the twelfth time for Germany to deploy their air force contingents to the Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States. In addition to performing NATO air policing functions, Italian and German soldiers will also participate in joint exercises with Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and other regional allies.
The NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States has been conducted continuously since 2004, when Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia became members of the NATO Alliance. Following Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine in 2014, the Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States was reinforced. Allied fighter jets conducting duty in the Baltic States often intercept Russian fighter jets which do not comply with international aviation safety rules when approaching the airspace of the Baltic States. In the eight months of this year, NATO fighter jets have been scrambled more than 80 times.
NATO Headquarters in Ramstein and Mons ensured continued and effective coordination and management of air policing over the Baltic States, and the capabilities are allocated by the Allies. The ongoing NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States demonstrates NATO’s unity and shared determination of the Allies to conduct allied defence and deterrence.
The new mission of the Italian and German contingents is already the 54th rotation since the beginning of the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States.