"This shows the solid NATO cooperation in action. The Alliance is present where it is necessary, and we all do our part," says detachment commander Major Ivar Magne Stene.
He is the first of three to lead the Norwegian operation in the Baltics.
Need for Allied Support
The Baltic nations Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia have all been members of NATO 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 handed over the QRA responsibility at Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania to Norway. Even though Norway has the main responsibility, Italy will still support the allied operation. In addition, the United Kingdom contributes from its established Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Belgian F-16 fighters placed in Poland support too.
To Control and Report
The mission lasts through August and involves four Norwegian F-16 fighter jets, of which two are constantly ready to act. Also, RNoAF is sending three liaison officers to the Control and Reporting Centre 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 mission," Stene explains.
Norway has previously contributed to air policing in the Baltics, in 2005 and in 2007/08.
Ready to Perform
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 Defence Logistics Organisation, the Norwegian Armed Forces Cyber Defence, and the Norwegian Defence Joint Medical Services.
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 systems are ready to perform," says Major General Per-Egil Rygg, Inspector General of the Air Force.