Hungary, Germany and Italy are the incoming Allies ready to safeguard NATO airspace in the Baltic region demonstrating enduring cohesion, solidarity and capability from August on. Hungarian JAS-39 fighter aircraft will return to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, for the third time after 2019 and 2015 to lead NATO’s collective mission. While at their home base at Kecskemét, the fighters ensure safe skies above Hungary under NATO’s southern Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Torrejón, Spain, they will now also fly missions in the Baltics under the northern CAOC at Uedem, Germany.
“The Baltic and enhanced Air Policing missions continue to demonstrate the collective nature of NATO as a defensive Alliance,” said Lieutenant General Pascal Delerce, Deputy Commander of Allied Air Command. “While Hungary, Germany and Italy will be ensuring the 60th rotation of Air Policing in the region, Allies have swiftly provided even more assets contributing to our new Air shielding mission that will enable a long-term increase in the air and missile defence posture along the eastern flank in response to changes in the security situation,” he added.
Germany is getting ready to deploy their Eurofighters from Laage to Ämari Air Base, Estonia, for the ninth time. After five lead deployments to Lithuania, the German Air Force is one of the Allies who fly their jets regularly in the region.Last, but not least, Italian Eurofighters will deploy to Malbork, Poland, for the first time and augment the Allied Air Policing mission in the region for the eighth time. The Italian Air Force has also been flying their Eurofighter and F-35 fighter aircraft safeguarding skies at home, in the Western Balkans or in Iceland under the NATO banner.
NATO Air Policing is a peacetime mission, which aims to preserve the security of Alliance airspace. 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. On top of the Air Policing mission, the Allies have been shielding the eastern flank with additional air assets against potential aggression assuring Allies and improving readiness.