Search our content

Home  /  Newsroom  /  2024  /  Latvian Air Base becomes third NATO Air Policing base in the Baltic Sea region 

Mar 2 2024

Latvian Air Base becomes third NATO Air Policing base in the Baltic Sea region 

RAMSTEIN, Germany - Effective March 1, 2024, the Latvian Military Base at Lielvārde, has been activated as the third NATO base to host Allied fighter detachments that will safeguard the skies over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania conducting the Baltic Air Policing mission. 

In today's ever-evolving security environment, NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission plays a crucial role in deterring potential threats, preserving airspace integrity and promoting regional stability 

In a ceremony on March 2, 2024, representatives from Latvia, Canada, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, the United States and NATO officially inaugurated the base’s role in NATO’s regional Air Policing posture. Due to runway and infrastructure works at Ämari Air Base that will last until later in the year, Latvia – in close cooperation with Estonian and Germany – created the structural conditions at Lielvārde for 24/7 quick reaction alert duties under the NATO umbrella. Until November, a German Eurofighter detachment is going to execute this mission.

The German Detachment Commander Lieutenant Colonel Swen Jacob reports "Eurofighters on status" to the Latvian Minister of Defence Andris Sprūds. Photo by Arnaud Chamberlin.

As a symbol of friendship,  the Latvian Air Chief Colonel Viesturs Masulis presents a loaf of black bread to Lieutenant Colonel Swen Jacob and his detachment.  Photo by Arnaud Chamberlin.

Lielvārde Air Base has for the first time received German Eurofighters who will conduct NATO Air Policing from here for the coming months, Photo by Arnaud Chamberlin.

On March 1, hours after being ready for the mission, the German Eurofighters executed their first alert scramble out of Lielvārde Air Base, Photo by Arnaud Chamberlin.
An inspection team of NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany, which is responsible for overseeing the Alliance’s Air Policing across northern Europe, officially certified the command and control process is in place at Lielvārde – from the first alert to the launch of the fighters and the filing of the final mission report.

"This is a memorable day for Latvia and NATO. For the first time NATO Air Policing will be carried out from Lielvārde Air Base," said Latvia’s Minister of Defence Andris Sprūds. "We are grateful to all Allies who have contributed their forces to this mission shielding NATO airspace and protecting our people. The air domain is essential for Allied deterrence and defence. The ability to carry out the mission from multiple locations clearly shows that NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile defence can be agile, swift and credible in defending our airspace," he added.

“For almost 20 years – since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO in 2004 – the principle of collective defence has been rolled out to the Baltic States, and this mission has now physically come to Lielvārde, which means NATO has three operating bases for deployments – one in each Baltic Ally,” said Major General Harold van Pee, Commander of CAOC Uedem. “Both Latvia and German have done an outstanding job in preparing the air base for fighter jet employments in a timely manner as was demonstrated yesterday when the German detachment managed to do their first alert scramble just hours after going on status formally for the first time,” he added referring to the first German take off from Lielvārde to intercept Russian military aircraft flying over the Baltic Sea.   

The ceremony was another opportunity to underline the collective effort of the Allies in the region. “In today's ever-evolving security environment, NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission plays a crucial role in deterring potential threats, safeguarding airspace integrity, and promoting regional stability,” said Colonel Viesturs Masulis, Commander of the Latvian Air Force. “It serves as a visible demonstration of our collective resolve to defend against any threat; therefore, we are honored to welcome and host German Luftwaffe as they operate their Eurofighters from Lielvārde Air Base ensuring safe skies. Let me thank the Polish Air Force for their support to the mission from Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Thank you for helping to protect our air space during the last months,” he added. 

With activating Lielvārde Air Base, Latvia enables NATO to continue to use two air bases for Air Policing in the region. Meanwhile, Ämari Air Base will be used for a deployment of Germany’s Deployable Control and Reporting Centre which from mid-March to the end of June 2024 will augment NATO’s surveillance and control capability in the Baltic Sea region. During that time, German Air Traffic Controllers will be integrated into the Control and Reporting Centres in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

Search our content:


HQ Allied Air Command
Flugplatz Ramstein
66877 Ramstein-Miesenbach

Media Operations

Public Affairs Office
Building/Gebäude 313
66877 Ramstein-Miesenbach