A detachment of the Hungarian Air Force is taking over the lead of NATO’s Baltic air policing mission from the Spanish Air Force in a ceremony at Lithuania’s military air base in Šiauliai
The ceremony will be attended by Lithuanian Deputy Defence Minister Vilius Semeška, Hungarian Defence Minister Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Lithuania’s Chief of Defence Valdemaras Rupšys and his Hungarian counterpart Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, and others, the Lithuanian Defence Ministry said in a press release.
A detachment of the Czech Air Force, which has been augmenting the mission in Lithuania for some time now, is staying for a consecutive two-month rotation.
Hungary’s JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft are returning to Šiauliai for the third time after 2019 and 2015 to lead the 60th air policing rotation in the region.
The outgoing Spanish detachment carried out the mission with eight F-18 fighter jets. Around 200 troops, including pilots, technicians, medical personnel, support teams, communications and other specialists, were involved in the mission.
The 130-strong detachment of the Czech Air Force will continue its augmenting role with five JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets.
The German Air Force’s Eurofighter aircraft will augment the mission from the Estonian Air Force’s air base in Amari, and the Italian Air Force’s Eurofighters will enhance it from the Polish Air Force’s base in Malbork.
As Russia continues its war in Ukraine, NATO’s air-policing aircraft have been recently not only conducting alert scrambles in response to international aviation rule violations by Russian military planes in international airspace over the Baltic Sea but have also been patrolling the airspace border with Russia and Belarus.