Military personnel of Hungary with four JJAS 39 GRIPEN fighter jets deploy to Lithuania to ensure NATO Air Policing in the Baltic region.
Press Release, Vilnius, 27 July 2022: On July 29 NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission detachments will change over at a ceremony at the Air Force Base in Šiauliai. The incoming Hungarian Air Force Detachment will take over the lead from the Spanish airmen, while the Czech augmentation will carry out a consecutive two-month rotation.
It is going to be the 60th iteration of the NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltic states. It will be led by the Hungarian Air Force Detachment that deploys to Lithuania with four JJAS 39 GRIPEN fighter jets. It is going to be the third rotation of Hungary since the launch of the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states (after 2015 and 2019).
The outgoing detachment of the Spanish Air Force were guarding the Baltic airspace with eight F-18s. The mission tasks were completed by approx. 200 military service members – pilots, technical, medical personnel, support teams, communications and other specialists.
The strengthening capability of the Czech Air Force were (and will) augmenting the lead detachment for the next two months with five JAS 39 Gripen fighter aircraft and approx. 130 military personnel.
Augmentation of the NATO Air Policing Mission will be flown from the Ämari Air Force Base in Estonia by the German Air Force with Eurofighter fighter aircraft while the enhancement of the mission conducted from the Polish Air Force base at Malbork will be ensured by the Italian Air Force with Eurofighter jets.
The detachments deployed in Šiauliai have been maintaining close ties with the community of Šiauliai, hosted student and pupil tours, attended city events, carried out charitable activities for Šiauliai City Alkas Service Complex-Home and kept company for kids with disabilities over the past four months of the mission in Lithuania.
The hand over – take over ceremony on July 29 will be attended by Vice Minister of National Defence Vilius Semeška, Minister of Defence of Hungary Kristóf Szalay-Bobrovniczky, Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys, Chief of Defence of Hungary Lt Gen Dr. Romulusz Ruszin-Szendi, Assistant Command at NATO headquarters Marius Dabkevičius, ambassadors, representatives of the city of Šiauliai, and other guests.
As Russia continues the war in Ukraine, NATO fighter aircraft are not only conducting alert scrambles in response to violations of international aviation rules committed by Russian aircraft in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea but also patrol the airspace border with Belarus and Russia as part of the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states.
NATO Allies stand vigilant and ready to respond to every kind of threat: currently, the Alliance has 130 [aircraft] on high alert and approx. 30 allied aircraft are the air at one time routinely.
Hungary, an Ally that Lithuania has bilateral defence cooperation with since 1999, will be responsible for protecting the Baltic airspace for the next four months. Hungary also contributes to the security of Lithuania and the Baltic region by deploying military personnel to exercise sin Lithuania and activities of the NATO Force Integration Unit in Vilnius.