On April 28, 2016 Belgium officially handed
over its augmenting role in NATO's Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission to the
United Kingdom during a ceremony at Ämari Air Base, Estonia. On May 4, Spain is
going to hand over the BAP lead to Portugal at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania.
The Belgian Air
Force has effectively completed the sixth deployment of their F-16 fighters
under NATO BAP. They were the first to start this NATO mission back in April
"Our deployment here has been very
successful," said the Belgian detachment Commander Major Laurent David. "Deployed
to this strategic position at the north eastern edge of NATO airspace we have
executed a lot of live and training missions. These have enabled all my
detachment staff to gain valuable experience. The Estonians have been wonderful
hosts, who were most cooperative; their support immensely contributed to our
Four Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft flew in to
Ämari Air Base to take over the augmenting role from the Belgian jets. This is
the fourth time the United Kingdom has provided assets to the BAP effort. RAF
jets were the third NATO nation to execute the BAP from October 2004 to January
2005 and they supported the mission as an augmenting nation in 2014 and 2015.
"We are delighted to be here at Ämari to secure NATO skies in Europe's
east," said Wing Commander Gordon Melville, Commanding Officer of 140
Expeditionary Air Wing, the RAF detachment. "We are looking forward to working
with our fantastic Estonian hosts to make sure we have the best possible chance
of achieving all of our operational and training aims." About 150 RAF pilots,
maintenance crews, support staff and controllers will be stationed at Ämari with
their jets until end of August.
NATO's Baltic Air Policing started in April
2004 and has been executed continuously ever since. So far, 17 NATO nations
have participated in this mission, which is overseen by Allied Air Command at
Ramstein, Germany. Under the peacetime task of Air Policing, NATO jets may be
launched in response to military and civilian aircraft that approach NATO
member countries airspace or do not fly in compliance with international
civilian aviation regulations.
"Our Air Policing
mission above the Baltic States illustrates the ability of the Alliance to
share and pool existing capabilities," said Air Commodore Jayne Millington, HQ
AIRCOM Deputy Chief of Staff for Support. "We take our responsibility very
seriously and NATO is committed to ensuring safety of Allies' airspace. The
Alliance has an appropriate and adequate capability to ensure a single standard
of security within all Allies' airspace."
2014, Ämari Air Base has been continuously hosting jets from Denmark, Germany,
Spain, the United Kingdom and Belgium as augmenting nations to NATO BAP mission
ensuring professional Host Nation Support for these detachments.
On behalf of the
Estonian Minister of Defence, Mr. Jonatan Vseviov, permanent secretary of the
Ministry of Defence reminded the audience that NATO's BAP shows that solidarity
among Allies is not just expressed in words. "Actions speak louder than words;
they are highly important in today's security environment. The presence of NATO
forces sends a strong signal that the Alliance is able to adapt to the new
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