France and Germany step up to Baltic air policing mission

NATO allies France and Germany confirmed Wednesday they will send planes to continue the alliance's Baltic air policing mission.

A NATO news release said: "With lead nation Portugal and augmenting nation United Kingdom halfway through their deployments in support of NATO’s 41st rotation of the Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission, new nations are getting ready to take over at the end of summer.

"France is going to be the new lead nation flying four Mirage 2000-5 fighters out of the Lithuanian Air Force Air Base at Šiauliai. The deployment of the jets will start on 31 August. This is the sixth time the French Air Force has contributed to the mission."

France will be backed up by four Eurofighter jets from Germany that will deploy to Ämari Air Base in Estonia for the same timeframe under the 42nd BAP rotation.

It will be the eighth time since the start of the mission in 2004 that the German Air Force has patrolled Baltic skies.

The release was at pains to say the deployment was a "purely defensive activity preserving the integrity of that airspace. It is an important confidence building measure to demonstrate Alliance solidarity and resolve."

So far, 17 NATO Allies have participated in the Baltic air policing mission.

The task ahead of the new arrivals was demonstrated Wednesday with Latvia's National Armed Forces (NBS) saying the current air police contingent had identified two Russian Su-27 jets flying over the Baltic sea close to Latvia's border.


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