Lithuania hosted NATO representatives along with national representatives from the incoming and outgoing Air Forces for a hand over take over ceremony.
"I am delighted to once again warmly welcome Danish and Portuguese troops," said Mr. Vilius Semeska, Vice Minister of Lithuanian Defence Ministry. "Your countries have sent Air Policing detachments to this region so many times. I hope that you all feel at home here. I wish you all the most rewarding time, clear and safe Baltic Skies for the upcoming four months," he added.
A joint detachment of Danish and Portuguese fighter jets will protect the skies above the Baltic States and Sea. NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, together with the Baltic Control and Reporting Centres at Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia will be in charge of controlling the sorties the Spanish fighter aircraft will be conducting patrolling the Baltic airspace.
"Ladies and gentlemen, to sum up: thank you Lithuania, farewell Spain and welcome Denmark and Portugal," said Air Commodore Adrian Hill, Allied Air Command Deputy Chief of Staff Support. "Together we will continue to keep our populations safe and defend NATO air space," he added.
Lithuania has bid farewell to the Spanish detachment after about 30 intercepts and four months of service. Their task was to prevent stop military aircraft from entering NATO Air Space while flying close to NATO borders; they also conducted numerous training sorties to further enhance pilot skills and support Allied joint training events and exercises.
Since 2004, when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the Alliance, NATO Allies have taken turns deploying an effective Air Policing capability to the Baltic Sea region. The collective mission showcases Alliance vigilance and cohesion; it is strong sign of NATO's readiness to preserve security and deter aggression keeping Allied populations safe.