Allies take turns deploying to air bases at Šiauliai, Lithuania and Ämari, Estonia, on a four-month rotational basis, ready to be launched by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany if required. The Air Forces of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia contribute to the mission with host nation support in the form of air command and control infrastructure and personnel.
Providing equal protection to all its member countries is an important measure to demonstrate Alliance solidarity, resolve and collective defence not only to current members, but also to our partner nations and future potential members.
When the three Baltic States joined NATO in 2004, a NATO Air Policing capability was established at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania. In 2014, after Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, a second Air Policing presence was established at Ämari Air Base, Estonia under NATO’s Assurance Measures to its Eastern Allies.
Fighter aircraft assigned to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission are often launched to visually identify Russian Federation Air Force aircraft. A high proportion of Russian Federation Air Force flight activity is due to the geographical situation of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad; Russian Federation Air Force aircraft regularly fly from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad and vice versa. They often approach or fly near NATO airspace without using transponders, communicating with Air Traffic Control or having filed a flight plan.