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Italy finishes its rotation on the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic States

2015.08.25
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The air contingent of the Italian Air Force  is concluding the duty on the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission from the Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania. Italian soldiers were guarding the NATO  airspace over  Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia for two consecutive rotations, the total of 8 months, with four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets. The Italian air contingent will be farewelled at a ceremony at the Šiauliai Air Base on August 27.

 

The Italian Air Force deployed four fighter jets and roughly 100 soldiers, pilots, maintenance and logistical provision personnel to the Šiauliai Air Base as of the beginning of January 2015 to ensure integrity and security of Baltic allies’ airspace. For the first quarter of 2015 the Italian Contingent served as the lead contingent of the air policing mission which was augmented by a Polish air contingent also deployed in Šiauliai and a Spanish air contingent deployed in Estonia.

 

The Italian unit stayed for the second rotation in the role of the augmenting contingent to the new lead air contingent provided by Norway. The current 38th rotation of the NATO Air Policing Mission will continue being conducted by the Norwegian air contingent with F-16 fighters for several more days to come. Besides the Italian augmentation of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission deployed in Šiauliai the Norwegian air contingent is also strengthened by a contingent of the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom operating four Eurofighter Typhoons from Amari in Estonia. Apart from protecting the Baltic airspace, NATO allies provide augmentations to carry out air policing tasks from air bases in Poland and Romania as necessary.

 

The NATO Air Policing Mission will continue being conducted in a strengthened format in the Baltic states as of September 1. Hungary with four Jas-39 Gripen fighter aircraft deployed in Šiauliai will take over as the lead nation from Norway. Hungary’s air contingent will be strengthened by a German air contingent with four Eurofighter Typhoon fighters from the Amari Air Base in Estonia.

 

The Baltic states seek that the main contingent of the NATO Baltic Air Mission operating from Šiauliai would be augmented with additional capabilities deployed in both, Estonia and Lithuania, and there are ongoing consultations with NATO allies regarding the matter. NATO allies and commands continually carry out assessments of the situation and are ready to deploy additional air assets to augment the mission promptly if needed.

 

NATO countries began sending military personnel and aircraft to guard Baltic states’ skies in 2004, upon Lithuania’s, Latvia’s and Estonia’s NATO accession. In spring 2014, immediately after the Russian annexation of Crimea, NATO allies strengthened protection of the Baltic airspace, decisions to strengthen land and maritime security followed.

 

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia cooperatively render comprehensive Host Nation Support and provide logistical support to all the deployed air capabilities for the total of up to annual EUR 15 million.

 

For the Media:

 

On August 27 the Italian air contingent will be farewelled at a ceremony in Šiauiai Air Base. The event will be attended by Vice Minister of National Defence Marijus Velička, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Brigadier General Vilmantas Tamošaitis, Commander of Italian Operational Forces Command Lieutenant General Maurizio Lodovisi, Commander of the Deployable Air Command and Control Centre (DACCC) Lieutenant General Roberto Nordio, representatives of the town of Šiauliai, and other guests.

 

Media representatives willing to cover the event should register no later than August 26, 5.00 p.m. at 00370-41 59 21 51 or [email protected].

 

Please arrive at the Air Base (Lakūnų str. 3, Šiauliai) on August 27 no later than 11.00 a.m.

 

Photo from MoD archives (credit: V. Eiva)

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