Spanish Air Force FA18 Hornet aircraft in Baltic for NATO Air Policing Mission 190520 CREDIT NATO.jpg
NATO

Spain Completes First Month Leading NATO's Baltic Air Policing

The Spanish Air Force will be leading the mission until the end of August.

Spanish Air Force FA18 Hornet aircraft in Baltic for NATO Air Policing Mission 190520 CREDIT NATO.jpg

Spain has completed its first month leading NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, after taking over on 1 May.

The Spanish Air Force is currently based at Šiauliai Airbase, in Lithuania, where they will be helping to keep NATO Baltic Allies' airspace safe until the end of August.

Jets from the United Kingdom have been supplementing Spain's deployment, as well as French jets based at the Amari Airbase in Estonia.

NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission is continuing despite the coronavirus pandemic.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is a test for us all," Lieutenant Colonel Antanas Matutis, Commander of the Šiauliai Airbase, said.

"By setting the right procedures and working together with our Allied colleagues we have been able to contain the COVID-19 spread at this base and created the basis for successful mission accomplishment," he added. 

"In spite of the current situation affecting all NATO countries, we are here to lead this mission as a proof of the Spanish solidarity and commitment to NATO and the Baltic countries," Spanish detachment commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jesús Gutiérrez Gallego, added.

Spanish Air Force fighter pilot on deployment to NATO Air Policing Mission in Baltic region 190520 CREDIT NATO.jpg
NATO's Air Policing mission is continuing despite the coronavirus pandemic (Picture: NATO).

NATO’s Baltic Air Policing is a defensive mission that sees allies sending planes to patrol the airspace of the three Baltic states who do not have fighter jets of their own.

The Air Policing programme keeps fighter jets on alert 24/7, ready to respond to any suspicious air activity close to the Alliance's borders.

In the first quarter of 2020, jets on NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission have scrambled around 25 times.

Russian military aircraft are often intercepted near the Baltic airspace.

The Šiauliai Airbase has been the main operating base for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing since 2004 and it has supported 17 different Allies contributing to the mission.

Cover image: Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornets are currently on deployment to the Baltics as part of NATO's Air Policing mission (Picture: NATO).