T he Polish Air Force took over responsibility for protecting the airspace of the three Baltic States during an official ceremony, which took place on 2nd January at Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Poles replaced its allies from the Czech Republic, who commenced their tour of duty early September 2019.
“Today is doubly important for the Baltic air security mission. First, because for the first time in history of this mission, Czech airmen were guarding Estonian airspace. Secondly, because today, for the first time ever, Polish Air Force takes up the same role here’, said Kristjan Prikk, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defense of The Republic of Estonia. ‘The participation of the Czech and Polish air forces in this important operation to ensure the integrity of NATO airspace demonstrates the commitment and solidarity of Allies and reinforces discouragement not only in the Baltic region but throughout NATO, he added.
A detachment of four Polish F-16 multirole fighter aircraft from the 32nd Tactical Air Base in Lask will operate in the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as part of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. The contingent will also be composed of 150 military personnel, including pilots, maintenance and logistic team. Poles should end their tour of duty by 15th May 2020.
“We have a long standing and fruitful cooperation with the Polish Defense Forces’, said Brigadier General, Veiko-Vello Palm, Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces General Staff. ‘A good testimony to the continued successful cooperation is now the deployment of Polish Air Force [detachment – MILMAG] at Ämari Air Base to secure the Baltic airspace’, he added.