On December 17, in line with strict coronavirus protection measures, Lithuania hosted a brief ceremony and awarded the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission Medal to the Italian personnel currently flying Eurofighter jets out of Šiauliai Air Force Base.
The Italian Air Force will seamlessly continue their mission ... and we will maintain our standard at the highest level
During the ceremony, the Lithuanian Air Force Staff expressed their appreciation and esteem to a representation of the Italian Task Force Air – Šiauliai.
"The feeling of friendship and affection towards the Italian Air Force personnel is well beyond the simple respect connected to their work," said the Commander of Lithuanian Air Force, Colonel Dainius Guzas on behalf of the Lithuanian host nation for NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission.
"I recognize to the Italian detachment a personal note of appreciation not only for the professionalism showed during these months, but also for their excellent way to operate," concluded Colonel Guzas, who signed the Italian detachment book of visitors after the ceremony.
"The women and men of my team exceptionally and professionally executed the NATO Mission, patrolling the Baltic States' skies. The readiness and capability of the detachment are reflected in our results: so far, our pilots have flown successfully almost 20 alert scrambles providing collective defence and deterrence by safeguarding the Baltic Airspace," said Colonel Antonio Di Matteo, Commander of Task Force Air – Šiauliai during the ceremony.
He added that the 54th rotation of NATO Baltic Air Poling might be over, but that the Italian Air Force will seamlessly continue their mission until the end of April into the 55th rotation. "And we will maintain our standard at the highest level," he added.