NATO Allied Air Command has announced that the Polish Air Force has taken over responsibility for leading NATO´s Baltic Air Policing mission out of Å iauliai Air Base, Lithuania, the air command said.
Poland took over responsibility from the Belgian Air Force on 3 January 2019. A traditional handover/takeover ceremony has been conducted at the Lithuanian Air Base every four months since 2004. The Polish Air Force was the eighth Ally to assume the mission at the end of 2005 and has now returned to accomplish the task for the first four months in 2019.
Commander of the Allied Air Command welcomed the Polish Air Force detachment and four F-16 fighter aircraft. He commended the Belgian detachment for keeping the Baltic Airspace safe conducting more than 20 alert scrambles during their four months of duty.
In March and April a Portuguese Air Force F-16 detachment will deploy to Malbork Air Base, Poland, under NATO´s assurance measures. This third asset provides additional resilience to the mission.
Allied Air Command, through its Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, can exploit this enhanced Air Policing capability flexibly to safeguard NATO airspace in the region and to conduct training activities with Host Nation, Allied and Partner assets.