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Baltic Air Policing

Baltic Air Policing

British Typhoon of 3 Sqn RAF (bottom) escorts Russian Su-27 'Flanker' (top) over the Baltic in June 2014
Date 30 March 2004 - present
Location Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia
Result Ongoing
The three Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Two French Mirage 2000s during a Baltic Air Policing deployment in 2010

The Baltic air-policing mission is a NATO air defence Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) in order to guard the airspace over the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Contents

  • Mission 1
  • Deployments 2
  • Accidents 3
  • Gallery 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Mission

Within the Alliance, preserving airspace integrity is conducted as a collective task jointly and collectively using fighter aircraft for Air Policing. Air Policing is a purely defensive mission. Since the 1970s, NATO has established a comprehensive system of air surveillance and airspace management means, as well as Quick Reaction Alert assets for intercepts (QRA(I)) provided by its member nations. By means of radar sites, remote data transmission, control and reporting centres (CRCs) and Combined Air Operation Centres (CAOCs) the Alliance ensures constant surveillance and control of its assigned airspace 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. NATO exploits these facilities to react within seconds to air traffic incidents in the Allies’ airspace. This structure of weapon systems, control centres and procedures is referred to as the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS). NATINADS has been and remains one cornerstone of Alliance solidarity and cohesion. The responsible Allied Air Headquarters are at Izmir, Turkey and Ramstein, Germany. The dividing line is the Alps. The Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein’s air area of responsibility is divided in two Air Policing Areas (APAs):

  • APA 1 is controlled by the Combined Air Operation Centre (CAOC) Finderup, Denmark;
  • APA 2 is controlled by the CAOC in Uedem, Germany.

NATO members without their own Air Policing assets are assisted by other NATO members. Luxembourg is covered by interceptors from Belgium, while Slovenia and Albania are covered by Italian and Greek aircraft.[1]

Since March 2004, when the Baltic States joined NATO, the 24/7 task of policing the airspace of the Baltic States was conducted on a three-month rotation from Lithuania's First Air Base in Zokniai/Šiauliai International Airport, near the northern city of Šiauliai. Starting with the Turkish deployment, rotations changed to a four-month basis. Usual deployments consist of four fighter aircraft with between 50 and 100 support personnel.

To ensure Air Policing performance is conducted in a safe and professional way, adequate training was and still is required, as NATO member nations deploy their assets to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, on a rotational basis. To standardize training across nations, Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein introduced a series of training events called Baltic Region Training Events (BRTEs) to capitalize on experienced aircrews deployed to Šiauliai and to offer superior training for Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian air forces and control facilities.[2] The three host nations contributed €2.2 million in 2011 to cover the deployment expenses and are supposed to contribute €3.5 million yearly by 2015. In 2012, the Alliance allocated €7 million for Šiauliai airfield modernisation from the Security Investment Programme.[3]

Hungary will perform the mission for the first time in 2015,[4] also Italy plans to carry out the mission in January–April 2015,[5] with 14 members having participated in Baltic Air Policing so far.

In 2013, the Baltic patrol was called in when the Swedish Air Force was unable to respond to a simulated attack by Russian bombers against Stockholm.[6][7]

During the 2014 Crimean crisis, the U.S. Air Force deployed six F-15C Eagle fighter jets from US-run Lakenheath air base in eastern England to the Lithuanian Air Force Base near Šiauliai.[8][9] These aircraft will augment the present mission comprising four U.S. F-15C Eagle aircraft. The U.S. heightened its NATO presence to increase the strength of the Baltic Air Policing mission. Another two U.S. KC-135 aerial refuelling aircraft brought aircraft service personnel.[10] In May 2014, NATO established its second air base in Estonia's Ämari near Tallinn, beginning with a Danish deployment.[11] Additionally in May 2014, Polish Air Force units at Malbork Air Base were reinforced by the French Air Force [12][13]

According to a former staff of the National Defence University of Finland the Baltic air bases are untenable in a war scenario as they lack hardened aircraft shelters which makes them vulnerable to attack.[14] Also Russia operates long-range AAA missiles in Kalinigrad and St Petersburg which would severely hamper or stop air operations from the area.[14]

Deployments

Starting Date[15] Country Air Force Aircraft Note Reference
30 March 2004  Belgium Belgian Air Component F-16AM Fighting Falcon [16]
1 July 2004  Denmark Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon [17]
30 October 2004  United Kingdom  Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado F.3 [18]
1 January 2005  Norway Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon [19]
30 March 2005  Netherlands Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon [20]
30 June 2005  Germany German Air Force F-4F Phantom II [21]
12 October 2005  United States  United States Air Force F-16CJ Fighting Falcon [22]
1 January 2006  Poland  Polish Air Force MiG-29A [23]
31 March 2006  Turkey Turkish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon [24]
1 August 2006  Spain Spanish Air Force Mirage F1M [24][25]
1 December 2006  Belgium Belgian Air Component F-16AM Fighting Falcon
1 April 2007  France French Air Force Mirage 2000C [26]
1 August 2007  Romania Romanian Air Force MiG-21 Lancer 'C' [27]
1 November 2007  Portugal Portuguese Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon [28][29]
16 December 2007  Norway Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon [30]
15 March 2008  Poland  Polish Air Force MiG-29A [31]
30 June 2008  Germany German Air Force F-4F Phantom II
30 September 2008  United States  United States Air Force F-15C Eagle [32]
2 January 2009  Denmark Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon
1 May 2009  Czech Republic Czech Air Force JAS 39C Gripen [33]
1 September 2009  Germany German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon [34]
3 November 2009  Germany Luftwaffe F-4F Phantom II [34]
4 January 2010  France French Air Force Mirage 2000C [35]
1 May 2010  Poland  Polish Air Force MiG-29A [36]
1 September 2010  United States  United States Air Force F-15C Eagle [37]
5 January 2011  Germany German Air Force F-4F Phantom II [38]
28 April 2011  France French Air Force Mirage 2000C [39]
2 September 2011  Denmark Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon [40]
4 January 2012  Germany German Air Force F-4F Phantom II [41]
26 April 2012  Poland  Polish Air Force MiG-29A [42]
1 September 2012  Czech Republic Czech Air Force JAS 39C Gripen [43]
3 January 2013  Denmark Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon [44]
30 April 2013  France French Air Force Mirage F1CR [45]
3 September 2013  Belgium Belgian Air Component F-16AM Fighting Falcon [46][47][48]
3 January 2014  United States  United States Air Force F-15C Eagle [49][50]
28 April - 1 May 2014  Poland  Polish Air Force MiG-29A [51]
 United Kingdom  Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon [52]
 Denmark Royal Danish Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon Based in Ämari, Estonia. [53]
 France French Air Force Rafale C, Mirage 2000C Based in Malbork, Poland. [54]
1 September 2014  Portugal Portuguese Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon [55]
 Canada Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet [56]
 Germany German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon Based in Ämari, Estonia [55][57]
 Netherlands Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon Based in Malbork, Poland [58][59]
1 January 2015  Italy Italian Air Force 4 x Eurofighter Typhoon Detachment had a strength of 96 personnel [60][61]
 Poland  Polish Air Force 4 x MiG-29A [62]
 Spain Spanish Air Force 4 x Eurofighter Typhoon Based in Ämari, Estonia [63]
 Belgium Belgian Air Component 4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon Based in Malbork, Poland [64]
1 May 2015  Norway Royal Norwegian Air Force 4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon Based in Siauliai, Lithuania [65][66][67]
 Italy Italian Air Force 4 x Eurofighter Typhoon Based in Siauliai, Lithuania [65][67]
 United Kingdom  Royal Air Force 4 x Eurofighter Typhoon Based in Ämari, Estonia [65][66][67]
 Belgium Belgian Air Component 4 x F-16AM Fighting Falcon Based in Malbork, Poland [67]
1 September 2015  Hungary Hungarian Air Force 4 x JAS 39C Gripen Based in Siauliai, Lithuania [68][69]
 Germany German Air Force 4 x Eurofighter Typhoon Based in Ämari, Estonia [69]

Accidents

  • 30 August 2011 a French Mirage collided with Lithuanian trainer jet L-39, which dived into a marsh. Both pilots ejected.[70]
  • 29 April 2013 a Danish F-16 landed in Tallinn after it suffered a bird strike, which caused minor engine damage.[71]
  • 09 October 2015 a German Eurofighter had its right external tank dropped "while taxiing to the start position" on the taxiway in Ämari airbase, Estonia. The necessary torque of the tightening bolts "was not present".[72]

Gallery

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