Norway and Italy to take over Baltic air policing mission in Lithuania

Antano Gedrimo nuotr.

Norway will send four F-16 fighter-jets to Lithuania, said Senior Lieutenant Ieva Gulbinienė, assistant chief of the Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base.

Meanwhile, Italy will continue patrolling the Baltic skies with its four Eurofighter Typhoons.

“Italians and Norwegians will perform (the mission) in Lithuania from May. Norway will be the main country in the mission, while Italy is staying as the supporting country,” she told BNS.

In addition to Italy as the main mission country, the air-policing mission in Lithuania was backed up by Poland with its MiG-19 since January.

In Gulbinienė’s words, NATO’s Baltic air policing mission in the Estonian Amari base will be carried out by the British Royal Air Force with its Eurofighter Typhoons that will replace Spanish airmen and their jets.

Meanwhile, a Belgian contingent with its F-16 will stay in Malbork, Poland, for a second shift.

The Alliance’s member-states started sending their aviators and fighter-jets to guard the Baltic skies after the three countries of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined NATO in March of 2004.

Until the Russian annexation of Crimea, the mission was usually carried out by four jets from Šiauliai. The number was doubled in Lithuania last year, with jets also stationed in Estonia and Poland.

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