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Spain leads NATO's Air Policing mission in the Baltics

Šiauliai, Lithuania
March 31, 2022
  • Tactical Air Detachment 'Vilkas', belonging to the Air Force's 12th Wing set off a new policing mission over the Alliance's airspace

The Spanish Armed Forces take over the command of the Baltic Air Policing (BAP)  by deploying eight EF-18 aircraft, six of them have been transferred to the NATO multinational chain of command. The deployed aircraft  of the Tactical Air Detachment 'Vilkas', belong to the Air Force's 12th Wing as well as the 130 airmen, commanded by lieutenant colonel David Soto Martínez, as Force Commander.

BAP aims at monitoring and ensuring the integrity of the Alliance's eastern airspace and preventing conflict through credible defence and deterrence measures. It is a peacetime mission to which Allied nations contribute on a rotational basis. The current rotation (the 59th since its creation in 2004) is led by Spain and also includes a detachment from the Czech Republic with its JAS-39 Gripen aircraft.

The Spanish contingent is deployed at Šiauliai AFB, from where it has already operated on four other occasions (2021, 2020, 2016 and 2006). In addition to airmen from the 12th Wing, the detachment includes personnel from the 46th Wing, the 49th Wing, the Mobile Air Control Group (GRUMOCA in Spanish), the Air Deployment Support Squadron (EADA), the Management Informatics Center (CIGES), the Air Logistics Command (MALOG), the Operations Command (MOPS), the Central Command and Control Group (GRUCEMAC), the Northern Command and Control Group (GRUNOMAC), the Alert and Control Group (GRUALERCON), the Logistic Center for Armament and Experimentation (CLAEX), the Torrejón Air Base Group, the Morón Air Base, the Center for Aerospace Medicine Instruction (CIMA) and the Air Medical Unit for Deployment Support (UMAAD) in Madrid.

Spanish EF-18's will be tasked with intercepting and identifying civil or military aircraft that do not comply with international flight regulations and approach Alliance airspace without being properly identified by air traffic control systems.

In this way, Spain's participation in the BAP will contribute to international stability and to our national security and defence, the pillars on which the progress and development of our society, as well as the principles that guide it, are based.