May 2, 2014
NATO's tripled Baltic Air Policing Mission begins
Typically involving just four aircraft from one nation, with responsibility for conducting air policing in Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian airspace, this multi-national rotation involves 12 aircraft.
In total, four RAF Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft and four Polish Air Force MiG-29 fighter aircraft are now actively deployed at Lithuania. In addition 4 Royal Danish Air Force Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft are operating out of Estonia. Before the crisis, the current rotation was planned to include just the four Polish MiG-29s, based at Siauliai. As the originally designated nation for this rotation of the Baltic Air Policing Mission, Poland will lead the mission.
The Danish, Polish, and British aircraft replace United States Air Force (USAF) Boeing F-15C Eagle, which had been operating out of Siauliai since 3 January. Originally only comprising four aircraft, the USAF deployment was bolstered in response to the Ukraine crisis in March with the addition of six more F-15Cs and a Boeing KC-135. At this time, the USAF also deployed 12 F-16 fighters to Poland and six F-16s to Romania, while NATO began surveillance flights over Romanian and Polish territory using UK, French, US, and NATO Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft.
In addition to the aircraft formally deployed under the aegis of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission, four French Air Force Rafale fighter aircraft were deployed Poland on a dual mission: to conduct training for Polish pilots in air-policing roles and, if requested, to assist in the conducting of the Baltic Air Policing Mission.
Canada, deployed six Boeing CF-18 Hornet to Romania on 29 April in order to conduct training activities in support of immediate reassurance measures to NATO allies in the region. The Czech Republic has also offered to deploy four Saab Gripen fighter aircraft and Germany six Eurofighter Typhoons in support of the Baltic Air Policing Mission.