Ramstein, Germany - NATO's Air Policing in the Baltic Region will swap out lead nation at Siauliai, Lithuania, in January. The Royal Netherlands Air Force will deploy four of its F-16 fighter jets to Siauliai to replace four French Mirage 2000-5. Meanwhile, Germany will continue to augment the mission at Amari, Estonia, with four Eurofighter jets.
From Jan 1 on, Royal
Netherlands Air Force F-16A (left) and German Eurofighter jets will be policing
the skies over the Baltic Region on behalf of NATO. Photos: Frank Crebas,
The Netherlands are leading this long-standing peacetime Allied mission for the second time after early 2005; in addition, they augmented it in late 2014 flying out of Malbork Air Base in Poland under NATO's assurance measures in the wake of the Russian illegal annexation of Crimea.
The German Eurofighter jets will remain on the NATO mission at Amari for four more months. Personnel from 74th Tactical Air Wing based at Neuburg in the south of Germany operated the fighters since September 2016; from January 2017 on, they will be replaced by staff from 71st Tactical Air Wing at Wittmund in the north of the country. To date, Germany has contributed to NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission nine times – five times leading and four times augmenting it.
NATO's Air Policing across the airspace of all Allies is a purely defensive 24/7 activity preserving the integrity of that airspace. It is an important confidence-building measure to demonstrate Alliance solidarity, readiness and resolve. NATO launched the Baltic Air Policing mission in 2004, when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania acceded to NATO without their own air policing assets. To date 17 Allies have taken turns ensuring territorial integrity in the Baltic skies.
Story by HQ AIRCOM PAO