NATO Announces New Baltic Air Deployments

NATO announced the details of its upcoming Baltic Air Policing rotation, with two new NATO allies contributing fighter forces to the mission. Italian Eurofighters will take on the lead policing element from Portuguese F-16s in the new year, said NATO’s air component headquarters. Polish MiG-29s will replace Canadian CF-18s at Šiauliai AB, Lithuania, and Spanish Eurofighters will take over from a German deployment of Eurofighters at Amari AB, Estonia. Belgian F-16s will also relieve a Dutch F-16 deployment at Malbork, Poland. The BAP mission, ongoing since 2004, provides air defense capability for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Thus far 14 NATO member states have participated in the mission—with the deployment of Italian and Spanish jets, the number rises to 16. This past May, in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis, NATO increased the number of fighters participating in the BAP mission, and Russian military activity in and around the Baltics has shown no sign of abating. The 37th rotation will start in January following an official ceremony on Dec. 31.