This is the ninth time Poland participates in this Allied mission safeguarding the airspace of Allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. At Ämari Air Base, Estonia, the Polish F-16 fighters will be stationed temporarily to demonstrate the collective resolve of the Allies and demonstrating NATO is postured for deterrence and defence. The Polish F-16 fighters come from 10 Squadron nicknamed “Dragons” at 32nd Tactical Air Base at Łask south-west of Łódź.
“For the third time we are supporting this important NATO peacetime mission with our F-16 fighter aircraft,” said detachment commander Lieutenant Colonel Krzysztof Duda. “I am looking forward to leading my team and contributing to the Alliance mission of protecting the skies along the Baltic Sea shores,” he added.
I am looking forward to leading my team and contributing to the Alliance mission of protecting the skies along the Baltic Sea shores
“It is a great opportunity to be deployed to Estonia for the first time to work with our hosts and our Belgian colleagues who continue to lead the mission at Siauliai, Lithuania,” Lieutenant Colonel Duda stated.
NATO Air Policing is a peacetime mission collectively carried out across all European Allies; the mission is overseen by Allied Air Command and executed and controlled by the two Combined Air Operations Centres at Uedem, Germany, and Torrejon, Spain.
When Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO in 2004 Allies started taking turns deploying their fighter assets to Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania to safeguard the airspace of the new Allies. Since 2014, when NATO established enhanced Air Policing also in the Baltics in response to Russia’s illegal activities in the Crimean, an additional fighter detachment has been deployed to Ämari Air Base, Estonia on a rotational basis.
A Polish Air Force F-16 from 10 Squadron "Dragons", 32nd Tactical Air Base at Łask, Poland, will be one of the fighters that deploy to Ämari Air Base, Estonia, to agument NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission during the first four months in 2020. Photo by Bartek Bera