NATO takes its responsibility to ensure integrity, safety and security of its airspace very seriously. For member nations that do not have the necessary air capabilities, agreements exist to ensure a single standard of security across European NATO airspace.
As its three Baltic members Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia don't have the required aircraft assets to contribute to NATO Air Policing over their own territories, Alliance members provide the necessary capabilities for them.
The Baltic Air-Policing mission is purely defensive, which aims to tackle the air defence constraints of the Baltic countries.
Allies take turns deploying to air bases at Šiauliai, Lithuania and Ämari, Estonia, on a four-month rotational basis, ready to be launched by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany if required. The Air Forces of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia contribute to the mission with host nation support in the form of air command and control infrastructure and personnel.
Providing equal protection to all its member countries is an important measure to demonstrate Alliance solidarity, resolve and collective defence not only to current members, but also to our partner nations and future potential members.
When the three Baltic States joined NATO in 2004, a NATO Air Policing capability was established at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania. In 2014, after Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, a second Air Policing presence was established at Ämari Air Base, Estonia under NATO’s Assurance Measures to its Eastern Allies.
Fighter aircraft assigned to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission are often launched to visually identify Russian Federation Air Force aircraft. A high proportion of Russian Federation Air Force flight activity is due to the geographical situation of the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad; Russian Federation Air Force aircraft regularly fly from mainland Russia to Kaliningrad and vice versa. They often approach or fly near NATO airspace without using transponders, communicating with Air Traffic Control or having filed a flight plan.
Spain, as an active and committed member of the Alliance, regularly participates in it. Although it was the focus of public interest as a result of the crisis in Ukraine in 2014, its participation has been developing continuously since 2004.
Spain contributes with several fighter planes, and the entire contingent is known as "Vilkas Detachment".
In addition to air assets, the Spanish Air Force deploys around 150 airmen within the contingent, which makes all the maintenance, logistic, surveillance and control tasks of the Detachment possible.
Depending on the unit deployed, Spain contributes to the security of the Baltic countries with F-18 and Eurofighter "Typhoon" aircraft. Spain usually takes part in the deployment between April and September.
The Baltic Air-Policing mission (BAP) is part of the Alliance´s collective effort in monitoring the airspace of its members, particularly those of the three Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The allied deployment in North Eastern Europe is developed under the NATO mandate within the framework of allied collective defence.
In June 2015, the Supreme Allied Headquarters for Europe (SHAPE) asked Spain to participate on the Baltic strengthening operation.
The NATO Air-Policing mission in the Baltic began in 2004 following the admission of the Baltic States into NATO. This implied the extension of the allied airspace in north eastern Europe, bordering Russia. Since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania lack a combat air force that will allow them to fulfil the surveillance and control tasks over their territory as well as Quick Reaction Alert missions or scramble. For this reason, they need support from the rest of Allied countries.
Following the start of the Ukrainian crisis at the beginning of 2014 and the increasing entrance of Russian planes into Baltic airspace, the mission has been reinforced with more planes in each of the three countries and two additional deployment bases: Amari, in Estonia, and Malbork, in Poland.
The Spanish Air Force took part in the Baltic Air-Policing mission for the very first time in 2006 with four 14th Wing Mirage F-1 deployed in Siauliai.
In 2021 Spain has deployed:
Spain's leadership within the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission comes to an end2021/09/01
Šiauliai (Lituania)More information
Eurofighters from Detachment Vilkas participate in the 'Festival of the Sea' in Klaipėda2021/07/27
In Klaipėda (Lituania)More information
Spain's Prime Minister visits Vilkas Detachment2021/07/08
In Šiauliai (Lituania)More information
Spanish Ambassador to Lithuania visits Detachment Vilkas 20212021/05/19
Šiauliai (Lithuania)More information
Spain takes the lead within NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission2021/04/30
Šiauliai (Lithuania)More information