Updates from NATO Baltic Air Policing detachments

Two Portuguese Air Force F-16 jets taxiing at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, where the lead NATO's Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission. Photo by
Jul 8, 2016

 

Based on information provided by the Portuguese and the Royal Air Force BAP detachments

A week into the second half of the Portuguese and the Royal Air Force deployment under NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission, it is time for a quick update.

Portugal, flying four of its F-16M interceptor jets out of Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, is the lead nation of the 41st BAP rotation.  The jets are operated by a total staff of 89 – pilots, navigators, controllers, logistics and maintenance specialists. At the end of June the majority of the staff was routinely replaced to help spread operational experience across as many airmen and airwomen as possible in the Portuguese Air Force.

The Portuguese Air Force flew numerous operational and training missions and the pilots in their jets are getting close to the 200 flight hour milestone for the detachment. Portugal is going to serve a lead nation for this major NATO mission until 31 August.

British maintenance staff at the ramp in Ämari Air Base, Estonia, with a Typhoon Eurofighter in the background. The Royal Air Force flies four Typhoon jets as augmenting nation for the BAP mission. Photo Crown Copyright

Meanwhile, at Ämari Air Base, Estonia, the Royal Air Force detachment operating four Typhoon Eurofighters has also started the last eight weeks of the deployment. The United Kingdom is the augmenting nation for the BAP mission for the third time, after being the third Ally after Belgium and Denmark to start this important NATO task.

"At the half-way point for the Royal Air Force’s latest commitment to the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission, we remain fully committed to the task in hand,” said Wing Commander Gordon Melville, Commanding Officer of the 140th Expeditionary Air Wing. "The men and women of 140 EAW, regular and reserve, have discharged their duty flawlessly in support of our NATO allies, and the working relationship we have fostered with our Host Nation Estonian colleagues has been invaluable to the success of the mission. We remain poised to launch at a moment’s notice as we continue defending the Baltic skies.”

From early May to the end of June, the Royal Air Force jets and pilots executed more than 10 Quick Reaction Alert launches and intercept about 30 aircraft during these missions.

NATO’s Air Policing is a peacetime collective defence mission. It is designed to safeguard the integrity of Allies’ airspace. Air Policing scrambles respond to military and civilian aircraft that do not follow international flight regulations or approach NATO airspace. Often they fail to properly identify themselves, communicate with Air Traffic Control, or file flight plans. NATO’s Air Policing responses seek to minimise risks, and ensure the safety of the airspace and its users. Allies without their own necessary air capabilities are supported by other Allies. Since 2004, NATO has provided 24/7 Air Policing support for the Baltic Allies. This is a strong sign of solidarity in action.

 

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