Latvia to gradually take over hosting of NATO's Baltic Air Policing Mission

  • 2024-01-09
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - As of this Tuesday, Latvia will be gradually taking over the hosting of  NATO's Baltic Air Policing Mission as renovation works take place at Estonia's Amari Air Base, the press office of the Latvian Defense Ministry informed LETA. 

German Armed Forces soldiers and military aircraft will soon arrive in Latvia to start test flights. From March 1, the National Armed Forces' (NAF) Air Base in Lielvarde will host the mission on a rotational basis for nine months.

Since 2004, the air policing mission has been operating from Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania, and since 2014 the support mission is operating also from Amari Air Base in Estonia. This is the first time that Latvia takes over as the mission's host nation. 

Since 2004 when Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined NATO, the Alliance's member states have been taking turns to police Baltic airspace. 

As Russia continues its war in Ukraine, allied fighters deployed in the Baltic states not only respond to the illegal entry of Russian military aircraft into Baltic airspace, but also patrol the airspace near the Russian-Belarusian border.

In response to Russia's all-out invasion of Ukraine, NATO has stepped up its air defenses since March last year, increasing the number of troops and fighters.

The Defense Ministry informed that allied fighter jets will soon be seen and heard more frequently in Latvian airspace.

Although Lielvarde Air Base has not been used specifically to host a NATO air patrol mission, it meets all NATO standards. Lielvarde has already hosted a wide range of NATO aircraft, including helicopters, large cargo aircraft or fifth-generation combat aircraft.

Last May, the Baltic defense ministers agreed to significantly increase host nation support for NATO allies conducting air patrols in Baltic skies.