Polish Fulcrums join Italian Typhoons to provide NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission
Polish Air Force Mig-29s once again deployed to Lithuania for Baltic Air Policing.
According to a press release issued by the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense, four Polish MiG-29 Fulcrums have deployed to Šiauliai airbase, Lithuania, in order to augment the NATO presence provided within the scope of Baltic Air Policing Mission.
The Polish jets are set to join the Italian Eurofighter Typhoons, already stationed in Lithuania, with the leading role within the mission. The reinforcement of Baltic Air Policing is a part of the NATO reassurance program, which has been taking place with the aim of providing additional air-assets for the states in the region since Apr. 2014. The reinforcement operation is directly linked with the Ukrainian crisis and the growing Russian presence in the Baltic region.
Polish MiGs come from the Minsk Mazowiecki 23rd airbase, along with over 100 military. Last time the Poles took part in the Baltic Air Policing was between May and August last year, which (notably) happened in the early days of the Ukrainian crisis.
During that deployment the Polish AF had the role of leader of the operation. It’s the sixth time the Polish MiG-29 jets are called to monitor the airspace over the Baltic states which are not in possession of their own airspace monitoring capabilities.
The Polish fighters will act under command of Lt. Col. Piotr Iwaszko, who is also the pilot flying the Polish MiG-29 demonstration act during the airshows all around Europe.
According to the General Command of the Armed Services of Poland, the main task which is to be fulfilled by the Fulcrums is to prevent any intrusion within the airspace of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Secondly the jets are to provide support for military and civilian aircraft in emergency situations.
It is worth noting, that this is the 37th rotation which is taking place within the BAP operation since the very beginning of the mission, which started back in March 2004. At that date the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined the NATO alliance.
As a consequence of the Ukrainian crisis, NATO largely reinforced its presence in the Mid-Eastern Europe, not only in Lithuania. Just recently, Spanish Eurofighter Typhoons have deployed to Estonia, while on Jan. 8. the Belgian F-16 fighters have arrived at Malbork, Poland to replace the Dutch Fighting Falcons stationed there.
Top image credit: Pawel Duma via http://www.airpolicing.wp.mil.pl