Jan 22, 2014
Hungary takes over Slovenian air policing
Hungary has taken over responsibility for policing Slovenia's airspace, it was announced on 3 January.
Under the arrangement, Hungarian Air Force Saab JAS 39 Gripen C/D fighter aircraft will provide air policing coverage of Slovenian airspace.
Since Slovenia's accession to NATO in 2004, Italy has provided air policing of Slovenian airspace with Italian Air Force aircraft based in Italy. The policing of Slovenian airspace is one of three extant NATO air policing missions.
Hungary's Gripen fighters are deployed with the 59th Tactical Fighter Wing's 1st Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kecskemét Air Base in central Hungary. The entirety of Slovenian airspace will fall within the Gripen's combat radius when operating from Kecskemét.
Hungary first announced it would take over the Slovenian air policing mission under a November 2012 agreement. In July 2013 a subsequent agreement confirmed that the Hungarian air policing role would begin in 2014.
Alongside the Slovenian air policing mission, NATO members took responsibility for the air policing of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, under the Baltic air policing mission, when they joined NATO with Slovenia in 2004. NATO launched another air policing mission in 2009 when Albania joined the alliance. Unlike the Slovenian and Albanian missions, which are conducted on an essentially permanent basis (respectively by Italy and now Hungary; and Italy and Greece jointly), the Baltic mission is conducted on four-month rotations.
NATO nations have also deployed aircraft to Iceland under a NATO mandate since 2008, following the end of regular US aircraft deployments to the country in 2006, although in January 2013 the status of this deployment was changed to a training.