Ten Candles and 14 Friends

NATO’s Baltic air policing mission recently celebrated a decade defending the airspace over the allied member states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. “The execution of this mission by different allies to an exacting level of performance…highlights the importance of bringing together personnel of the highest caliber,” said US Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa Commander Gen. Frank Gorenc in a Jan. 8 release marking the Jan. 3 anniversary. Since Russian aircraft routinely enter Baltic airspace unannounced and the three NATO members lack air defense assets of their own, fighters from 14 allied air forces deploy on roughly four-month alert rotations to Šiauliai AB, Lithuania. Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and US have contributed a combined 34 rotations to Šiauliai since the mission began in 2004. Italy and Hungary pledged recently to contribute aircraft on future rotations. US F-15Cs from RAF Lakenheath, Britain, are currently standing Baltic alert.