Poland to return to Baltic Air Policing mission for ninth time

Polish Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft and roughly 140 personnel are going to deploy to Ämari Air Base in Estonia to augment NATO’s Baltic Air Policing from January 2020, NATO announced December 16.

It is the ninth time Poland has participated in the mission safeguarding the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. On this rotation the Polish F-16 fighters come from 10 Squadron nicknamed “Dragons” at 32nd Tactical Air Base at Łask south-west of Łódź.

“For the third time we are supporting this important NATO peacetime mission with our F-16 fighter aircraft,” said detachment commander Lieutenant Colonel Krzysztof Duda. “I am looking forward to leading my team and contributing to the Alliance mission of protecting the skies along the Baltic Sea shores.”

Poland will join Belgian fighters already based in Estonia.

When Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO in 2004, their allies started taking turns deploying their fighter assets to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania to safeguard their airspace, as they lacked suitable aircraft of their own. Then in 2014, NATO established an enhanced Air Policing presence with an additional fighter detachment deployed to Ämari on a rotational basis.

Planning, direction and task coordination for NATO's Air Policing mission is provided by two Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) at Uedem, Germany, and Torrejon, Spain,

 

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