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 Sep 3 2019

NATO launches 51st rotation of Baltic Air Policing mission

The Belgian Air Force has assumed responsibility to lead NATO’s Baltic Air Policing into the 51st rotation; augmented by the Royal Danish Air Force, the Allies take over the baton for the Allied peacetime mission from their Hungarian and Spanish Air force colleagues. .

“Today's ceremony concludes another successful rotation of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission in Lithuania demonstrating NATO’s unity, resolve and solidarity and integrity of the Baltic Allies,” said United States Air Force General Jeffrey Harrigian, Commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command during his remarks. He commended the outgoing Hungarian and Spanish detachment for “truly great operations by great airmen” and invited the incoming Belgian and Danish detachments to underline “we are collectively ready and responsive, determined to maintain our freedom and security”. 

The Hungarian Air Force accomplished their mission leading the 50th rotation of Allies at Šiauliai Air Base together with augmenting nation Spain. Incoming nations Belgium and Denmark are the two Allies that were first and second in 2004 to commence what became a long sequence of rations to safeguard the airspace in the Baltic Sea region. As they take over the peacetime defensive mission they will continue executing at the high standard demonstrated by their predecessors.

“Let me assure, that NATO’s Air Policing mission will continue to be as important to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as ever, and we

will continue to support Allied troops here,” said Lithuanian Vice-Minister of National Defence, Vytautas Umbrasas in his opening remarks. “Your efforts do not only contribute to safety of civilian aviation; you are the guardians of integrity of the Alliance. Your service is instrumental for credible deterrence and peace in this region and the whole of Alliance,” he added welcoming the incoming detachments.

We are collectively ready and responsive, determined to maintain our freedom and security

Allied Air Command is responsible for NATO’s Air Policing mission, a peacetime mission safeguarding the Allies’ airspace. Planning, direction and task coordination for the mission is provided by its two Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) at Uedem, Germany, and Torrejon, Spain. CAOC Uedem is regionally responsible for Baltic Air Policing.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

The key to the Baltic airspace in front of the international flags and a Hungarian Air Force JAS-39 Gripen fighter before the Baltic Air Policing Handover/Takeover ceremony. Photo Manfred Reudenbach
General Geffrey Harrigian, Commander of NATO's Allied Air Command, underlined in his remarks the relevance of the Baltic Air Policing mission in demonstrating the Alliance's unity, resolve and solidarity.  Photo by Antanas Gedrimas
The central element of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Handover-Takeover ceremony (from left to right): outgoing Spanish and Hungarian detachment commanders, the Key and incoming Belgian and Danish detachment commanders. Photo by Antanas Gedrimas
Another symbolic act: Mixed formation flyby of two Hungarian Air Force JAS-39 fighter aircraft (left) and two Belgian Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft at Šiauliai. Photo by Antanas Gedrimas

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