Norway Takes Over Responsibility for the Baltic Air Patrol


2015-05-02  According to a story published on 4/9/15 on the Norwegian Ministry of Defense website, Norway will take over the role of policing Baltic airspace this month.

The Baltic nations Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have all been members of the NATO alliance since 2004, but because of limited own capacities the alliance handles the air policing in the Baltics.

This means that the other NATO partners alternate on maintaining the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) in the Baltics.

On 1 May, Italy hands over the QRA responsibility at Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania to Norway.

Even though Norway has the main responsibility, Italy will continue to support the allied operation.

Norwegian F-16. Credit: Norwegian MoD
Norwegian F-16. Credit: Norwegian MoD

In addition, United Kingdom will contribute from its established base, Ämari Air Base in Estonia.

The mission lasts through August and involves four F-16 fighter jets, of which two are constantly ready to act. Also, RNoAF is sending three liaison officers to the Control and Reporting Center in Karmelava, Lithuania.

“About 70 people are involved in the mission. However, due to personnel rotations, closer to 300 people will contribute in Lithuania during the course of the mission,” Stene explains.

Norway has previously contributed to air policing in the Baltics, both in 2005 and 2007.

132 Air Wing at Bodø Main Air Station has been given responsibility for planning and preparation, while the Norwegian Joint Headquarters will retain operational command.

Personnel from a wide range of professional fields are involved. Among others, personnel from Bodø and Ørland, the two air stations housing F-16, other air wings, in addition to the Norwegian Defense Logistics Organisation, Norwegian Cyber Force, and Norwegian Defense Medical Service.

Some conscripted soldiers will also be given the opportunity to serve part of their compulsory military service in Lithuania.

“We are proud to contribute to the Baltic Air Policing mission and the beneficial NATO collaboration, an ever-more important collaboration, given the current political situation in Europe. Both our fighter jets and control and reporting system are ready to perform,” says Major General Per Egil Rygg, Chief of Staff of the RNoAF.