On January 8 four MiG-29 fighters of the Polish Air Force will land at the Lithuanian Air Force Base at Šiauliai to join the Baltic Air Policing Mission. The Polish contribution will reinforce the mission carried out an Italian air contingent.
The new Poland’s contingent will arrive from their permanent base at the 23rd Tactical Minsk-Mazowiecki Air Base, Poland. The over 100-strong contingent is manned according to a model similar to the Italian contingent to include pilots, engineers, medical personnel, provision elements, specialists of communications and other areas.
Poland’s military will be ensuring the security of the Baltic airspace for the sixth time, Poland conducted its most recent rotation of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission in May- August 2014 Poland as the lead nation of the mission.
Italian troops deployed with four Eurofighter Typhoon fighters jets in Šiauliai to take charge as the current rotation of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission on January 1, 2015.
NATO has been sending troops and air assets to guard the eastern border of NATO since March 2004 when Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia entered the Alliance. Military personnel of 15 NATO allies have already take part in the mission since then. The current rotation carried out by the Italian-Polish contingent is the 37th rotation since the beginning of the mission.
Fighters of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission are also deployed in Estonia and Poland, so the current rotation of the mission will also be carried out by the Spanish with Eurofighter Typhoons form the Amari Air Base in Estonia and Belgian soldiers with F-16s from Malbork, Poland.
Allies are contributing additional air assets to the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission to carry out NATO reassurance measures since April 2014.
The NATO Air Policing Mission is the cornerstone of Alliance solidarity just like the protection of integrity of NATO airspace is a collective defence commitment. NATO applies equal security standards to all member states, including the Baltic States not in possession of their own air capabilities.