VILNIUS – Belgium and France has today taken over the helm of the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states.
A Belgian Royal Air Force detachment with four F-16 Fighting Falcons and a French Air Force Detachment with Mirage2000 that will reinforce the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states replaced an Italian Air Force capability after four months, the Defense Ministry said.
The Belgian Air Force will be providing its seventh rotation of the mission. It will include approx. 80 members: pilots, technicians, medical personnel, support groups, communications specialists, etc.
The French will be guarding the Baltic skies for the eighth time with a contingent of strength of approx. 100 military specialists of different areas.
The outgoing Italian detachment was protecting the Baltic airspace with four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft.
NATO allies have been deploying troops and assets to guard the Baltic airspace since March 2004 when Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined NATO. Since then, 17 Allies have flown the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states. The mission completed by the Italian Air Detachment will the 63rd since the laucnh of the NATO Baltic Air Policing effort in 2004.