Hungary, Germany take over air policing mission

The Hungarian Air Force takes over NATO's Baltic air policing mission Monday at Siauliai in Lithuania with German planes recently installed at Amari in Estonia. 

An official contingent changeover ceremony involving the Lithuanian and the Hungarian defense ministers is planned at the Lithuanian Aviation Base in Siauliai on Monday, the BNS newswire reported.

Hungary has deployed four JAS-39 Gripen fighter-jets and over 100 troops in Siauliai.

It is Hungary's first deployment to the NATO Baltic air-policing mission to protect NATO's air-space above Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. German troops operating four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets from Amari, Estonia, will strengthen the Hungarian air contingent.

NATO allies started sending their troops and fighter jets to guard Baltic air space after the three countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined the Alliance in March of 2004.

The Baltics have no attack or interceptor jet aircraft of their own.

Immediately after the Russian annexation of Crimea in spring 2014, NATO strengthened protection of Baltic air-space, with 16 planes currently on patrol duties.

However that number is set to be cut to 8 next year.

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