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.