VILNIUS - Hungary, Spain and the United Kingdom are taking over NATO's Baltic air policing mission at a ceremony on Thursday.
Hungary will lead the mission with four JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft based at the Lithuanian Air Force base in Siauliai, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.
Spain will deploy five F-18 fighter aircraft to Siauliai to augment the mission under NATO's assurance measures put in place following Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.
The Hungarian and Spanish detachments are replacing the Poles who have patrolled the Baltic skies with F-16 fighters since January.
The United Kingdom will augment the mission with Eurofighter aircraft at Estonia's Amari air base, replacing German aircraft.
NATO member countries have taken turns safeguarding Baltic airspace since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which do not have fighter aircraft of their own, joined the alliance in 2004. Since then, military aircraft of 17 allied countries have taken part in protecting the Baltic airspace.