French Air Force takes command of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission

Ready to conduct NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission - four French Mirage 2000-C at Siauliai Airfield, Lithuania.

From Captain Sylvain Favier, Allied Command Operations:  On Thursday, 28 April 2011, a ceremony took place at Šiauliai airfield in Lithuania marking the hand-over of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission from Germany to France. The ceremony was attended by military and civilian representatives. Among them were the Chief of the Lithuanian Defence Staff, Brigadier General Edvardas Mažeikis, the ambassadors of France and Germany in Lithuania – Mr. François Laumonier and Mr. Hans Peter Annen, as well as Major General Patrick Charaix, deputy commander of the French Air Defence and Air Operations Command, and Major General Volker Zimmer, Commander of 4th German Air Division.

Until 1 September 2011, the Fighter Squadron 2/5 "Ile de France” stationed at Orange Air Base and, subsequently, Fighter Squadron 1/12 "Cambresis” stationed at Cambrai Air Base will operate four Mirage 2000-C fighter aircraft to ensure safety and security of the airspace above Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania 24/7. The French Air Force is conducting this Alliance operation – dubbed Baltic 2011 – for the third time; previous deployments took place from April to July 2007 and January to April 2010.

Since 2004, NATO members ensure the Air Policing mission for the Baltic States, demonstrating Alliance cohesion and commitment and maintaining the integrity of the Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania airspace. . . .

At the end of the official handover the French and German flags were raised in the Air Policing detachment compound, where 106 French airmen from all specialties will keep up the NATO operation in the coming four months.  (photo: ADC Eric Sarda/French Air Force)

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