In a combined visit, the Chief of the French Air Force, General Philippe Lavigne, and the Deputy Commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command, Lieutenant General Pascal Delerce, travelled to the Estonian Air Base at Ämari, to meet members of the French Air Force detachment and receive a mission update.
This is a really strong expression of French commitment to the Alliance
“France and the French Air Force have regularly contributed to this important mission of safeguarding the Baltic airspace,” said General Lavigne during the visit. “For the eighth time our Mirages fighter aircraft have demonstrated Alliance solidarity – protecting the Baltic skies just as we protect the skies at home; this is a really strong expression of French commitment to the Alliance,” he added.
General Philipe Lavigne and the French Detachment Commander Lieutenant Colonel Mathieu Courtaban during the visit in front of a Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet. The French Air Force is safeguarding the Baltic skies flying out of Ämari Air Base, Estonia, and demonstrating NATO cohesion and commitment. Photo courtesy French Air Force.
The French Air Force has been augmenting NATO's Baltic Air Policing at Ämari Air Base since May 2020 safeguarding the skies in the northern Baltic region. Their mission more specifically is enhanced Air Policing, assuring the Baltic Allies of NATO’s commitment and vigilance.
“As a French air force officer, I take pride in being here today to see the contribution of the French Air Force to this collective peacetime air policing mission here in the Baltics. As a NATO officer I am grateful to France for continuing to provide support to Alliance missions besides other engagements worldwide,” said General Delerce. “The fact that seventeen Allies have deployed fighter aircraft to the Baltic Sea region since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the Alliance is a huge expression of NATO cohesion, burden sharing and cooperation,” he added.
Lieutenant General Pascal Delerce, Deputy Commander of Allied Air Command, discussing with detachment personnel during his visit to Ämari Air Base, Estonia. He received first-hand impressions of how the French Air Force detachment is executing the enhanced Air Policing mission in support of NATO's Baltic Air Policing. Photo courtesy French Air Force.
Together with two Allied fighter detachments at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania – the leading Spanish Air Force F-18 and augmenting Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter aircraft – the French Mirage 2000-5 form the 53rd rotation of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing. The fighters provide a pool of interceptors for NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem to be quickly launched in response to unidentified or uncooperative aircraft flying close to or towards NATO airspace in the region and to protect the integrity of the Baltic Allies’ airspace.