Poland sending four MiG-29s to Lithuania for air policing mission

The Polish contribution will reinforce the mission carried out by 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 Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence said.

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 took charge as the current rotation of the NATO Baltic air policing mission 1 January 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.

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

NATO fighter jets were scrambled around 150 times last year to identify and accompany Russian military planes flying near the Baltic states, which is three times more than the previous year.

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