Belgians take over NATO Baltic air policing mission
The handover ceremony of the NATO Baltic air policing mission will take place at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai, northern Lithuania, on Friday.
The incoming contingent of the Belgian Air Force will take over the lead of the mission from servicemen of the Portugal Air Force and the Spanish Air Force providing augmentation of the mission, the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense said.
The Belgian troops will be deployed with four F-16 fighter jets in Lithuania for the fourth time already, three more times Belgian servicemen were deployed to ensure the security of NATO eastern boarders from Estonia.
The outgoing Portuguese servicemen with four F-16 fighters have been carrying out the air policing mission since May. Servicemen of the Spanish Air Force who augmented the mission protected the Baltic airspace with six fighters.
The mission has been carried out in the Baltic states, having no fighter jets of their own, since 2004 when the Baltic states became NATO members.