On May 1. the Polish Air Force will take responsibility for the Baltic Air Policing: four MiG-29 Fulcrums accompanied by more than 100 soldiers will deploy to Lithuania. Along with all the armament and equipment needed to keep the detachment active until Aug. 31.
According to various media outlets the massive deployment of NATO aircraft in the Baltic area is related to Ukrainian crisis even if Russian activity in the entire region has been quite intense and frequent well before the invasion of Crimea and the subsequent crisis.
The official aim of the deployment is to conduct air patrols and intercepts over Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Additionally the jet fighters will assist jetliners and fighter jets in case of emergencies.
As usual, most of the aircraft will be stationed in Šiauliai base, Lithuania.
Meanwhile, a Baltic Region Training Event (BRTE) is taking part at Šiauliai on Apr. 1 – 2.
The exercise is a routine event organized by the NATO Allied Air Command (COM AIRCOM) from Ramstein and Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem (CAOC Uedem).
KC-135Rs operating from Germany provide the air-refueling support.
The exercise is focusing mostly on air-to-air training, especially within the scope of the coordination and emergency procedures during QRA (Quick Reaction Alert), e.g. in case of communication problems. One drill with Gripens and F-15C jet fighters in a renegade scenario has been already carried out.
Other missions to be conducted include SAR operations and low altitude passes over Palanga and Vilnus airports, in order to enhance the way the civilian staff and the air forces cooperate.
Fueled by an image posted on Facebook as an April Fools day joke, rumors spread on Social Network that F-22 Raptors were deploying to Poland. The radar evading planes were actually deploying to Al Dhafra, UAE for the usual rotation in the Persian Gulf.
Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist
Image Credit: U.S. Air Force