Baltic Air Policing
Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon (bottom) escorts Russian Air Force Su-27 Flanker (top) over the Baltic in June 2014
Location
Date30 March 2004 – present
Executed byNATO
OutcomeOngoing

The Baltic air-policing mission is a NATO air defence Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) in order to guard the airspace over the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.[1]

Mission

Ämari and Zokniai air bases in the Baltic states.
Ämari and Zokniai air bases in the Baltic states.

Within the Alliance, preserving airspace integrity is conducted as a collective task jointly and collectively using fighter aircraft for Air Policing. Air policing is a purely defensive mission. Since the 1970s, NATO has established a comprehensive system of air surveillance and airspace management means, as well as Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) assets for intercepts (QRA(I)) provided by its member nations. By means of radar sites, remote data transmission, Control and Reporting Centres (CRCs) and Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) the Alliance ensures constant surveillance and control of its assigned airspace 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. NATO exploits these facilities to react within seconds to air traffic incidents in the Allies’ airspace. This structure of weapon systems, control centres and procedures is referred to as the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS). NATINADS has been and remains one cornerstone of Alliance solidarity and cohesion. The responsible Allied Air Headquarters are at Izmir, Turkey and Ramstein, Germany. The dividing line is the Alps. The Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein’s air area of responsibility is divided in two Air Policing Areas (APAs):

NATO members without their own Air Policing assets are assisted by other NATO members. Luxembourg is covered by interceptors from Belgium, while Slovenia and Albania are covered by Italian and Greek aircraft.[3]

Since March 2004, when the Baltic States joined NATO, the 24/7 task of policing the airspace of the Baltic States was conducted on a three-month rotation from Lithuania's First Air Force Base in Zokniai/Šiauliai International Airport, near the northern city of Šiauliai, and starting 2014 at the Ämari Air Base in Harju County, Estonia. Starting with the Turkish deployment, rotations changed to a four-month basis. Usual deployments consist of four fighter aircraft with between 50 and 100 support personnel.

To ensure Air Policing performance is conducted in a safe and professional way, adequate training was and still is required, as NATO member nations deploy their assets to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, on a rotational basis. To standardize training across nations, Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein introduced a series of training events formerly called Baltic Region Training Events, now referred to as Ramstein Alloy [2] to capitalize on experienced aircrews deployed to Šiauliai and to offer superior training for Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian air forces and control facilities.[4] The three host nations contributed €2.2 million in 2011 to cover the deployment expenses and are supposed to contribute €3.5 million yearly by 2015. In 2012, the Alliance allocated €7 million for Šiauliai airfield modernisation from the Security Investment Programme.[5]

Two French Mirage 2000s during a Baltic Air Policing deployment in 2010
Two French Mirage 2000s during a Baltic Air Policing deployment in 2010

Hungary performed the mission for the first time in 2015,[6] also Italy carried out the mission in January–April 2015,[7] with 14 members having participated in Baltic Air Policing so far.

In 2013, the Baltic patrol was called in when the Swedish Air Force was unable to respond to a simulated attack by Russian bombers against Stockholm.[8]

During the 2014 Crimean crisis, the U.S. Air Force deployed six F-15C Eagle fighter jets from US-run Lakenheath air base in eastern England to the Lithuanian Air Force Base near Šiauliai.[9][10] These aircraft will augment the present mission comprising four U.S. F-15C Eagle aircraft. The U.S. heightened its NATO presence to increase the strength of the Baltic Air Policing mission. Another two U.S. KC-135 aerial refuelling aircraft brought aircraft service personnel.[11] In May 2014, NATO established its second air base in Estonia's Ämari near Tallinn, beginning with a Danish deployment.[12] Additionally in May 2014, Polish Air Force units at Malbork Air Base were reinforced by the French Air Force [13][14]

According to a former staff of the National Defence University of Finland the Baltic air bases are untenable in a war scenario as they lack hardened aircraft shelters which makes them vulnerable to attack.[15] Also Russia operates long-range SAMs in Kaliningrad, Pskov and Leningrad Oblast, which might severely hamper or stop air operations from the area.[15]

Deployments

LT-LV-EE Baltic Air Policing medal bar
LT-LV-EE Baltic Air Policing medal bar
Starting date[16] Country Air force Aircraft Based in Reference
30 March 2004  Belgium Belgium Belgian Air Component
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [17][18]
1 July 2004  Denmark
Royal Danish Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [19]
30 October 2004  United Kingdom  Royal Air Force
4 x Panavia Tornado F.3
Šiauliai, Lithuania [20][21]
1 January 2005  Norway
Royal Norwegian Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [22]
30 March 2005  Netherlands
Royal Netherlands Air Force
4x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [23]
30 June 2005  Germany
German Air Force
4 x F-4F Phantom II
Šiauliai, Lithuania [24]
12 October 2005  United States  United States Air Force
4 x F-16CJ Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [25]
1 January 2006  Poland  Polish Air Force
4 x MiG-29A
Šiauliai, Lithuania [26]
31 March 2006  Turkey
Turkish Air Force
4 x F-16C Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [27]
1 August 2006  Spain
Spanish Air Force
3 x Mirage F1M
Šiauliai, Lithuania [27][28]
1 December 2006  Belgium Belgium Belgian Air Component
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [29]
1 April 2007  France
French Air Force
4 x Mirage 2000C
Šiauliai, Lithuania [30]
1 August 2007  Romania
Romanian Air Force
MiG-21 Lancer 'C'
Šiauliai, Lithuania [31]
1 November 2007  Portugal
Portuguese Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [32][33]
16 December 2007  Norway
Royal Norwegian Air Force
F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [34]
15 March 2008  Poland  Polish Air Force
4 x MiG-29A
Šiauliai, Lithuania [35]
30 June 2008  Germany
German Air Force
4 x F-4F Phantom II
Šiauliai, Lithuania [36]
30 September 2008  United States  United States Air Force
4 x F-15C Eagle
Šiauliai, Lithuania [37]
2 January 2009  Denmark
Royal Danish Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [38]
1 May 2009  Czech Republic
Czech Air Force
4 x JAS 39C Gripen
Šiauliai, Lithuania [39]
1 September 2009  Germany
 German Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [40]
3 November 2009  Germany
 German Air Force
4 x F-4F Phantom II
Šiauliai, Lithuania [41]
4 January 2010  France
French Air Force
4 x Mirage 2000C
Šiauliai, Lithuania [42]
1 May 2010  Poland  Polish Air Force
4 x MiG-29A
Šiauliai, Lithuania [43]
1 September 2010  United States  United States Air Force
4 x F-15C Eagle
Šiauliai, Lithuania [44]
5 January 2011  Germany
 German Air Force
6 x F-4F Phantom II
Šiauliai, Lithuania [45]
28 April 2011  France
French Air Force
4 x Mirage 2000C
Šiauliai, Lithuania [46][47]
2 September 2011  Denmark
Royal Danish Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [48][49]
4 January 2012  Germany
 German Air Force
6 x F-4F Phantom II
Šiauliai, Lithuania [50][51]
26 April 2012  Poland  Polish Air Force
4 x MiG-29A
Šiauliai, Lithuania [52]
1 September 2012  Czech Republic
Czech Air Force
4 x JAS 39C Gripen
Šiauliai, Lithuania [53]
3 January 2013  Denmark
Royal Danish Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [54]
30 April 2013  France
French Air Force
4 x Mirage F1CR
Šiauliai, Lithuania [55][56]
3 September 2013  Belgium Belgium Belgian Air Component
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [57][58][59]
3 January 2014  United States  United States Air Force
4 x F-15C Eagle
Šiauliai, Lithuania [60]
1 May 2014  Poland  Polish Air Force
4 x MiG-29A
Šiauliai, Lithuania [61]
 United Kingdom  Royal Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [61]
 Denmark
Royal Danish Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Ämari, Estonia. [61]
 France
French Air Force
4 x Dassault Rafale
Malbork, Poland. [61]
1 September 2014  Portugal Portuguese Air Force
6 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [62]
 Canada Royal Canadian Air Force
4 x CF-188 Hornet
Šiauliai, Lithuania [62]
 Germany
German Air Force
Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [62]
 Netherlands
Royal Netherlands Air Force
F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Malbork, Poland [62]
1 January 2015  Italy Italian Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [63]
2 January 2015  Spain
Spanish Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [64]
5 January 2015  Poland  Polish Air Force
4 x MiG-29A
Šiauliai, Lithuania [63]
7 January 2015  Belgium Belgium Belgian Air Component
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Malbork, Poland [65]
1 May 2015  Norway Royal Norwegian Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [66]
 Italy Italian Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [66][67]
 United Kingdom  Royal Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [66]
 Belgium Belgium Belgian Air Component
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Malbork, Poland [66]
25 August 2015  Germany
German Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [68]
31 August 2015  Hungary
Hungarian Air Force
4 x JAS 39C Gripen
Šiauliai, Lithuania [69]
7 January 2016  Spain
Spanish Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [70]
 Belgium Belgium Belgian Air Component
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Ämari, Estonia [70]
28 April 2016  United Kingdom  Royal Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [71]
4 May 2016  Portugal Portuguese Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [72]
31 August 2016  France
French Air Force
4 x Mirage 2000-5F
Šiauliai, Lithuania [73]
 Germany
German Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [74]
5 January 2017  Netherlands
Royal Netherlands Air Force
|4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [75]
 Germany
German Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [76]
2 May 2017  Poland  Polish Air Force
4 x F-16C Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [77]
3 May 2017  Spain
Spanish Air Force
5 x EF-18 Hornet
Ämari, Estonia [78]
30 August 2017  United States  United States Air Force
4 x F-15C Eagle
Šiauliai, Lithuania [79]
5 September 2017  Belgium Belgium Belgian Air Component
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Ämari, Estonia [80]
8 January 2018  Denmark
Royal Danish Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [81]
10 January 2018  Italy Italian Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [82]
2 May 2018  Portugal Portuguese Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [83]
 Spain
Spanish Air Force
6 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [83]
3 May 2018  France
French Air Force
4 x Mirage 2000-5F
Ämari, Estonia [84]
30 August 2018  Germany
German Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [85]
31 August 2018  Belgium Belgium Belgian Air Component
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [86]
3 January 2019  Poland  Polish Air Force
4 x F-16C Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [87][88]
1 May 2019  Hungary
Hungarian Air Force
4 x JAS 39C Gripen
Šiauliai, Lithuania [89]
 Spain
Spanish Air Force
5 x EF-18 Hornet
Šiauliai, Lithuania [89]
 United Kingdom  Royal Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Ämari, Estonia [89]
3 September 2019  Belgium Belgium Belgian Air Component
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [90][91]
 Denmark
Royal Danish Air Force
4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [90][92]
 Czech Republic
Czech Air Force
4 x JAS 39C Gripen
Ämari, Estonia [90][93]
2 January 2020  Poland  Polish Air Force
4 x F-16C Fighting Falcon
Ämari, Estonia [94][95]
30 April 2020  France
French Air Force
4 x Mirage 2000-5F
Ämari, Estonia [96][97]
1 May 2020  United Kingdom  Royal Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [98][99]
 Spain
Spanish Air Force
6 x EF-18 Hornet
Šiauliai, Lithuania [100][101]
15 July 2020  Germany
German Air Force
Eurofighter Typhoons
Šiauliai, Lithuania [102]
31 August 2020  Germany
German Air Force
6 x Eurofighter Typhoons
Ämari, Estonia [103][104]
4 September 2020  Italy
Italian Air Force
4 x Eurofighter Typhoon
Šiauliai, Lithuania [105][106]

Accidents

Gallery

See also

References

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  2. ^ CAOC Finderup 1993-2013 Archived July 22, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "L'A.M. assicura lo spazio aereo albanese" (in Italian). Retrieved 20 September 2011. L’Aeronautica Militare assicura già dal 2007, con i propri velivoli, l’"Air Policing" dello spazio aereo sloveno.
  4. ^ "Baltic Region Training Event". Archived from the original on 2014-10-30. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
  5. ^ A Mission in the Interest of the Whole Alliance. PISM Bulletin No 88 (421), September 21, 2012
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  7. ^ Italy’s Typhoon fighter jets secure airspace of Iceland. 10 June 2013
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  107. ^ Lithuanian L-39 crashes after collision with French Mirage
  108. ^ Danish jets make unscheduled landing after bird collision in Estonian airspace.
  109. ^ [1]
  110. ^ https://news.sky.com/story/spanish-fighter-jet-accidentally-fires-missile-in-estonia-11465025

Coordinates: 55°53′38″N 23°23′42″E / 55.8939°N 23.3950°E / 55.8939; 23.3950