Poland takes over Air Policing in Lithuania

Poland has taken over responsibility for NATO's Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission from Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania.

The Sily Powietrzne Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej (SPRP, Polish Air Force) will safeguard NATO airspace over the Baltic region against Eastern activities from November 30 until March 2022 on a standard four-month rotation. 

Polish Air Force BAP
Polish Air Force Detachment Commander Lt Col Paweł Stajniak takes the key from Portuguese Air Force Detachment Commander Mj. Emidio Fernandes, and Lt Col Niels M. Andersen Danish Task Force Activity Commander. NATO

Responsibility of this NATO mission was handed over to the SPRP and its Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52+ Fighting Falcons from the Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) and Portuguese Air Force, both of which deployed F-16AM/BM (MLU) Fighting Falcons to the region for BAP operations. Both nations have led this rotation since August 31, after taking over from a Spanish Air Force Eurofighter EF-2000 detachment. 

Polish Air Force BAP
Polish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons wait their turn for a top-up of fuel over the north Sea. Josef Campion

Poland will work closely with the Lithuanian Air Force throughout the rotation. The SPRP has been carrying out BAP missions since rotations under the NATO initiative commenced in 2004, with the country serving as the second nation to lead a BAP deployment. Since then, Poland has carried out six rotations as the lead nation on BAP rotations.