Four F-16s from the Royal Danish Air Force took over the Baltic Air Policing mission on September 2.
Four F-16s from the Royal Danish Air Force formally took over the Baltic Air Policing mission on September 2, following a ceremony held at Siauliai-Zokniai Air Base, Lithuania. The aircraft, from the Fighter Wing (Esk 727 and 730) at Skrydstrup, flew in from there on August 31, together with around 70 personnel to support the detachment, which will last for the remainder of 2011.
This will be the third time Danish F-16s have supported this mission, following previous deployments from July-October 2004 and January-April 2009. They replace French Air Force Mirage 2000Cs which had been deployed on the mission since April 28, 2011. One of the Mirages suffered some damage during the deployment on August 30, when it collided with a Lithuanian Air Force L-39ZA during a joint mission involving the latter and two Mirage 2000Cs. Although the Mirage landed safely back at Siauliai, the L-39ZA crew were unable to maintain control of their aircraft, but ejected safely before it crashed near the base.
The Baltic Air Policing mission began in March 2004, when the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO. Since then, the airspace over these countries has been guarded on a rotational basis by fighters from other NATO nations, due to the absence of their own assets for this purpose.