Germany and Denmark strengthen NATO Air Policing operations in Romania and Lithuania

During February and March, nations Germany and Denmark have and will deploy fighter assets under the ‘plug & fight’ series in Romania and Lithuania, in reaction to Russia's military activity on the borders of Ukraine.

Denmark decided to send an augmentation detachment of four F-16AM (MLU) Fighting Falcons towards NATO Air policing in context of the current crisis caused by Russia’s military build up on the borders of Ukraine. A ceremony was held on January 28 at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, to welcome the Danish detachment. 

Denmark f-16
Two Danish F-16 flying over the Baltic sea during their last detachment in December 2021. Rune Dyrholm

The NATO Secretary General welcomed this demonstration of Denmark's enduring commitment to the Alliance's collective defence posture. This detachment comes only two months after the Danish Air Force returned home from Air Policing operations in the Baltic states.

The Royal Danish Air Force F-16s are conducting the Air Policing mission in the Baltics for the ninth time. The Danish deployment will number approximately 80 service members, including pilots, engineers, paramedics, and other personnel. They will work alongside the leading Polish air detachment in Lithuania and the augmenting Belgian air detachment of F-16s in Estonia.

Arvydas Anušauskas Lithuanian Minister of National Defence.
Arvydas Anušauskas Lithuanian Minister of National Defence. Alfredas Pliadis

“The Danish Air Force is proud to be able to support NATO Air Policing operations over the Baltic States,” said Col Henrik Nielsen, chief of staff, Air Command Denmark.

In addition to Denmark, German Air Force Eurofighter EF-2000s will deploy to Romania under NATO's enhanced Air Policing to conduct an interoperability mission with the Italian Air Force Eurofighters under the existing NATO 'Plug & Fight' series during February and March.

‘Plug & fight’ is where a small detachment of aircraft and personnel from one nation, in this case Germany, joins one ally already conducting operations which currently is Italy, and uses the same structure already in existence. German and Italian ground and aircrew will work together to launch aircraft in the most minimal amount of time in case of a Alpha QRA launch.

Eurofighter EF2000
 A German Air Force Eurofighter EF-2000 awaits its turn for a mid air refuel over Germany. DVIDS/ USAF Airmen 1st Class Jessi Monte 

This increases the readiness that NATO has when deploying QRA fighters at any time. It also increases interoperability between the two nations. Germany have conducted ‘plug & fight’ operations in the past with British Typhoon FGR4s in Romania as well in Lithuania and Estonia.

Arvydas Anušauskas Lithuanian Minister of National Defence said: "We live in turbulent times. However, I am confident that NATO and Allies will respond to Russia's aggressive actions appropriately. Including through strengthening of collective defence in NATO's Eastern flank.”