August 26, 2015

What Is the Significance of Halving the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission?

The decision to reduce the number of fighter aircraft that perform the Baltic Air Policing mission (BAP) from 12 to eight, starting on 1 September 2015, was already made in May 2015, and it was then agreed upon by all allies, including the Baltic States. In fact, the number of fighter aircraft at Šiauliai, Lithuania, will be reduced from eight to four, whereas, in Estonia, at Ämari AB, there will continue to be four aircraft (Germany will succeed the UK on 1 September 2015).

The decision to reduce the number of fighter aircraft that perform the Baltic Air Policing mission (BAP) from 12 to eight, starting on 1 September 2015, was already made in May 2015, and it was then agreed upon by all allies, including the Baltic States. In fact, the number of fighter aircraft at Šiauliai, Lithuania, will be reduced from eight to four, whereas, in Estonia, at Ämari AB, there will continue to be four aircraft (Germany will succeed the UK on 1 September 2015).

The Estonian Ministry of Defence and the Air Force consider the future number of fighter aircraft (4+4) for the BAP to be sufficient. One also has to keep in mind that the BAP is a specific peacetime mission that has been carried out from the very moment the Baltic States became NATO members in 2004. Until 2014, it had the clear deficiency of having been performed only from Šiauliai, whereas now, the Baltic States are effectively covered from both “ends”. Four aircraft at each BAP air base is the sufficient minimum to perform the necessary tasks in a relatively normal environment, but the number of aircraft may be quickly increased, if the situation demands, given that (fighter) aircraft are the most speedily deployable military assets (especially when there is full preparedness to receive them at respective bases). It is the ultimate responsibility of SACEUR, as the supreme commander of all NATO operations, to determine the necessary assets for the BAP, considering the given tasks and the situation in the region.
Read more: PISM

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