Baltic Air Policing
|Baltic Air Policing|
|Date||30 March 2004 – present|
Within the Alliance, preserving airspace integrity is conducted as a collective task jointly and collectively using fighter aircraft for Air Policing. Air policing is a purely defensive mission. Since the 1970s, NATO has established a comprehensive system of air surveillance and airspace management means, as well as Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) assets for intercepts (QRA(I)) provided by its member nations. By means of radar sites, remote data transmission, Control and Reporting Centres (CRCs) and Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) the Alliance ensures constant surveillance and control of its assigned airspace 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. NATO exploits these facilities to react within seconds to air traffic incidents in the Allies’ airspace. This structure of weapon systems, control centres and procedures is referred to as the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS). NATINADS has been and remains one cornerstone of Alliance solidarity and cohesion. The responsible Allied Air Headquarters are at Izmir, Turkey and Ramstein, Germany. The dividing line is the Alps. The Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein’s air area of responsibility is divided in two Air Policing Areas (APAs):
- APA 1 is controlled by the CAOC Finderup, Denmark (deactivated in 2013);
- APA 2 is controlled by the CAOC Uedem, Germany.
NATO members without their own Air Policing assets are assisted by other NATO members. Luxembourg is covered by interceptors from Belgium, while Slovenia and Albania are covered by Italian and Greek aircraft.
Since March 2004, when the Baltic States joined NATO, the 24/7 task of policing the airspace of the Baltic States was conducted on a three-month rotation from Lithuania's First Air Force Base in Zokniai/Šiauliai International Airport, near the northern city of Šiauliai, and starting 2014 at the Ämari Air Base in Harju County, Estonia. Starting with the Turkish deployment, rotations changed to a four-month basis. Usual deployments consist of four fighter aircraft with between 50 and 100 support personnel.
To ensure Air Policing performance is conducted in a safe and professional way, adequate training was and still is required, as NATO member nations deploy their assets to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, on a rotational basis. To standardize training across nations, Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein introduced a series of training events formerly called Baltic Region Training Events, now referred to as Ramstein Alloy  to capitalize on experienced aircrews deployed to Šiauliai and to offer superior training for Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian air forces and control facilities. The three host nations contributed €2.2 million in 2011 to cover the deployment expenses and are supposed to contribute €3.5 million yearly by 2015. In 2012, the Alliance allocated €7 million for Šiauliai airfield modernisation from the Security Investment Programme.
During the 2014 Crimean crisis, the U.S. Air Force deployed six F-15C Eagle fighter jets from US-run Lakenheath air base in eastern England to the Lithuanian Air Force Base near Šiauliai. These aircraft will augment the present mission comprising four U.S. F-15C Eagle aircraft. The U.S. heightened its NATO presence to increase the strength of the Baltic Air Policing mission. Another two U.S. KC-135 aerial refuelling aircraft brought aircraft service personnel. In May 2014, NATO established its second air base in Estonia's Ämari near Tallinn, beginning with a Danish deployment. Additionally in May 2014, Polish Air Force units at Malbork Air Base were reinforced by the French Air Force 
According to a former staff of the National Defence University of Finland the Baltic air bases are untenable in a war scenario as they lack hardened aircraft shelters which makes them vulnerable to attack. Also Russia operates long-range SAMs in Kaliningrad, Pskov and Leningrad Oblast which would severely hamper or stop air operations from the area.
- 30 August 2011 – A French Mirage collided with Lithuanian trainer jet L-39, which crashed into a marsh. Both pilots ejected.
- 29 April 2013 – A Danish F-16 landed in Tallinn after it suffered a bird strike, which caused minor engine damage.
- 9 October 2015 – A German Eurofighter's right external tank dropped "while taxiing to the start position" on the taxiway in Ämari airbase, Estonia. The necessary torque of the tightening bolts "was not present".
- 8 August 2018 – A Spanish Eurofighter accidentally launched an AMRAAM missile without a target while on patrol over Estonia. The missile was not confirmed to have self-destructed as designed.
French Mirage 2000s during a Baltic Air Policing deployment in 2010.
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L’Aeronautica Militare assicura già dal 2007, con i propri velivoli, l’"Air Policing" dello spazio aereo sloveno.
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- Czech Gripen Baltic Airspace Policing Encore
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- "Responsibility for the security of the Baltic airspace will be passed on to Portugal and Canada at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai". 31 August 2014.
- "End of 2014 Marks Hand-Over of NATO's Baltic Air Policing". 1 January 2015.
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- "RAF hands over NATO Air Policing to Luftwaffe at Ämari, Estonia". 25 August 2015.
- "Hungary takes over lead role in Baltic Air Policing". 31 August 2015.
- "Spain and Belgium ensure Safe Skies over the Baltic Region". 7 January 2016.
- "Augmenting Baltic Air Policing Nations hand over responsibility". 28 April 2016.
- "Portugal assumes lead over Baltic Air Policing at Šiauliai". 4 May 2016.
- "Lead in Baltic Air Policing handed over to France at Šiauliai, Lithuania". 31 August 2016.
- "Baltic Air Policing augmenting nations pass baton at Ämari, Estonia". 31 August 2016.
- "France hands over lead in Baltic Air Policing to the Netherlands at Siauliai". 5 January 2017.
- "Germany continues augmenting Baltic Air Policing". 6 January 2017.
- "Baltic Air Policing mission changes lead nation at Šiauliai Air Base". 2 May 2017.
- "Spanish F-18 jets to augment NATO Baltic Air Policing". 3 May 2017.
- "US Air Force assumes lead of 45th rotation of Baltic Air Policing". 30 August 2017.
- "First Ally to conduct Baltic Air Policing, Belgium, back at Ämari". 5 September 2017.
- "NATO Air Policing in Baltics continues with Denmark in lead". 8 January 2018.
- "Italy welcomed in Estonia to augment NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission". 10 January 2018.
- "Portugal to take over lead of Baltic Air Policing". 2 May 2018.
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- "NATO Air Policing in Baltic region continues with Belgium in lead". 31 August 2018.
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- "Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark take up NATO air-policing duties". 25 October 2019.
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- "Poland takes over Baltic Air Policing in Estonia, Belgium continues to lead from Lithuania". 17 January 2020.
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- "France to Take Over NATO Baltic Air Policing Duties at Ämari". 3 June 2020.
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- "GERMAN FIGHTER JETS JOIN RAF BALTIC AIR POLICING DETACHMENT AT ŠIAULIAI AIRBASE, LITHUANIA". 9 August 2020.
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- Lithuanian L-39 crashes after collision with French Mirage
- Danish jets make unscheduled landing after bird collision in Estonian airspace.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to NATO Baltic air-policing mission.|
- Ministry of National Defence Republic of Lithuania NATO Air - policing mission
- Estonian Ministry of Defence
- Estonian Air Force
- Headquarters Allied Air Command Ramstein - NATO Air Policing
- NATO AIRCOM Exercises