For the seventh time Spanish Air Force deploys their fighter aircraft to the Baltic Sea shores under NATO peacetime mission here. They will lead the 53rd Baltic Air Policing rotation with an F-18 detachment at Šiauliai with the Royal Air Force and the French Air Force augmenting the mission at Ämari. The Spanish F-18 fighter home base is Zaragoza Air Base in the northeast of the country some 300 km away from the Capital Madrid.
We are here to support this Allied mission as a proof of the Spanish solidarity and commitment to NATO and the Baltic countries
A Spanish Air Force F-18 fighter aircraft taking off at Zaragoza Air Base, home to 15 Air Wing.The F-18s will be patrolling the skies over the Baltic Sea for four months starting from May 1. Photo courtesy Spanish Air Force.
"My country will be actively supporting the mission almost three and half thousand kilometres away from Zaragoza, home to our wing back in Spain, while at the same time ensuring Air Policing at home," said the Spanish Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jesus Gutierrez Gallego. "For the third time, after 2006 and 2016, we are leading the mission here in Lithuania; we also augmented the Baltic Air Policing capability flying out of Ämari, Estonia in 2015 and 2017 and Šiauliai in 2018 and 2019," he said,
Spain will deploy their F-18 fighter aircraft to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania. This is the seventh time the Spanish Air Force executes the NATO mission. Photo courtesy Spanish Air Force
"In spite of the current situation affecting all NATO countries we are here to support this mission as a proof of the Spanish solidarity and commitment to NATO and the Baltic countries," he added.
NATO Air Policing is a peacetime collective defence mission involving the use of the air surveillance and control system, air command and control and appropriate air defence assets, including interceptors, for the purpose of preserving the integrity of NATO airspace. For NATO nations that do not have the necessary air capabilities, agreements exist to ensure a single standard when it comes to safeguarding the airspace across all European Allies.
Since April 2004, 17 NATO Allies – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, Poland, Turkey, Spain, France, Romania, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Italy and Hungary – have taken turns deploying NATO BAP detachments to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania.