SIAULIAI, Lithuania - Earlier on Monday, the Hungarian detachment was scrambled for the first time during their second NATO mission safeguarding the Baltic airspace.
Twelve days after assuming the lead of NATO’s 50th Baltic Air Policing rotation at Siauliai, Lithuania, Hungarian Air Force JAS-39 Gripen were launched for their first alert mission.
The Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, decided to order the Gripen to take off after picking up an unknown track transiting through airspace controlled by the Baltic States without displaying a transponder signal. After conducting a visual identification of a Russian Federation Air Force An-26, the Hungarian pilots returned to their base.
"The Hungarian aircrew handled the situation in a safe and professional manner,” said the commander of the Hungarian Air Force detachment at Siauliai, Brigadier General Csaba Ugrik. "My team was launched to support the civilian Air Traffic Control agencies improving flight safety in the region,” he added.
NATO’s Baltic Air Policing is a long-standing peacetime mission. Since 2004, when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the Alliance, Allies have been taking turns at deploying fighter aircraft to Siauliai Air Base to safeguard the airspace over and adjacent to the Baltic States. This 50th detachment specifically showcases Allied solidarity, cohesion and capabilities.
Overseen by Allied Air Command and controlled by its two Combined Air Operations Centres at Uedem, Germany, and Torrejon, Spain, the defensive mission of Air Policing is conducted across all European NATO Allies. For those Allies that do not have the necessary air capabilities, agreements exist to ensure the same standard of airspace security.
Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office