48th rotation of the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission

The 48th rotation of detachments contributing to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission will start soon. From September 2018, the Belgian Air Force will take the lead over the mission at Šiauliai, Lithuania, while the German Air Force will augment out of Ämari, Estonia. Belgium will also Belgium to take over lead of the mission.

This will be 7th time of the Belgian military aircraft deployment to the Baltic States. The Belgian Air Force will deploy to the NATO mission not only the F-16 fighter jets, but also – like other participating countries - Airmen and all necessary equipment. The detachment will come from two fighter bases located at Florennes and Kleine Brogel and stay until the end of the year. It is worth noting that more than decade ago - in March 2004 - Belgium was the first nation to be responsible for safeguarding the airspace of the three Baltic States since their accession to NATO.

The Luftwaffe (German Air Force) is going to augment the mission from Ämari Air Base, Estonia with Eurofighter Typhoons and its personnel from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74 (74th Tactical Air Force Wing) at Neuburg Airbase, Bavaria, Germany. It will be the German Air Force’s fourth time as augmenting nation and their ninth contribution to the mission overall. 

The rotation will replace detachments of the Portuguese, Spanish and French Air Forces which have been conducting the mission since May 2018. 

It's worth knowing that NATO Air Policing is a 24/7 collective peacetime mission overseen by Allied Air Command and tactically controlled by two Combined Air Operations Centres at Uedem, Germany and Torrejon, Spain. For all Allies that don’t have their own Air Policing capability, like the three Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania), agreements exist to maintain a standard of airspace security ensuring the integrity and protection of NATO Allies’ airspace.

Author: Daniel Kasprzycki

Sources: Aviation24.be (www.aviation24.be), Allied Command Public Affairs Office  (https://ac.nato.int/)
Photo: A Belgian F-16’s inflight (Belgian Ministry of Defense)

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