ÄMARI, Estonia – Spain has accomplished their four-month NATO enhanced Air Policing deployment and handed over the task to an incoming Polish detachment during a ceremony here on December 1, 2023.
“Russia’s ongoing unprovoked and unjustified violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity (...) has once more highlighted the importance of tangible signs of Alliance cohesion and resolve - this mission fit in that framework
Spanish Eurofighters - after conducting over 20 alert scrambles and dozens of sorties in support of combined training and readiness drills - complete their deployment in support of NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission at Ämari. Polish F-16 fighter jets are now taking over, returning to Ämari after a previous deployment here in 2020 and leading NATO Baltic Air Policing out of Šiauliai in 2022 and 2023.
The Spanish Air Force redeploys their Eurofighter jets that supported NATO's enhanced Air Policing mission out of Ämari Air Base for the last four months.
Photo by Spanish Air Force.
The traditional handover-takeover ceremony at Ämari marked the successful completion and the continuation of NATO enhanced Air Policing in the Baltic Sea region. Photo by Estonian Defence Forces.
During the ceremony, Major General Harold Van Pee thanked Spain for their contribution to the enduring NATO mission and welcomed the Polish detachment. Photo by Estonian Defence Forces.
For the coming four months, Polish F-16s will perform Air Policing flights out of Ämari and safeguard NATO skies along the northern Baltic Sea shores. Photo by Estonian Defence Forces.
The NATO representative during the ceremony, Major General Harold Van Pee thanked Spain for the excellent performance of the enduring NATO mission and Estonia for continued host nation support which is critical to collective defence. At the same time, he welcomed the Polish detachment and wished them good luck for the coming four months.
“Russia’s ongoing unprovoked and unjustified violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity has of course had severe implications for the Euro-Atlantic security and if nothing else, it has once more highlighted the importance of tangible signs of Alliance cohesion and resolve,” said Major General Van Pee. “And the Baltic Air Policing and this Enhanced Air Policing Mission fit in that framework,” he added.
The handover of the mission occurred a day after the lead role for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing was transferred from Italy to incoming nations Belgium and France, demonstrating continued Alliance cohesion and support of NATO’s collective defence efforts.
Overseen by Allied Air Command and controlled by the Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem in close cooperation with the Allies’ surveillance and control centres, the Allies have flown countless Air Policing missions in the Baltic States since 2004. Ämari has hosted Allied fighter detachments for almost ten years and from next spring on, NATO’s Air Policing operations will temporarily move to Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, as long as there are runway works at Ämari.
This move shows our resilience, allows NATO to shift its focus also on Latvia and ensures the mission will continue and Allies will fly sorties to preserve the integrity of NATO territory, safeguard the skies, and demonstrate readiness and response capability for collective deterrence and defence.