Yesterday, Royal Air Force Eurofighters ‘Typhoon’, in the frame of their present deployment with the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, intercepted and identified an aircraft approaching the airspace of the Baltic States without applying international air navigation rules. The British Typhoons from 6 Squadron, Royal Air Force Base Lossiemouth in Scotland, started their tour last month, operating – together with their Spanish colleagues flying F-18 fighter jets – from the air base Šiauliai in Lithuania. Additionally, a French Air Force contingent flying Mirage 2000 fighter jets, operates from Ämari Airbase in Estonia. Their common mission is to demonstrate NATO’s collective resolve and assurance for her eastern allies and ensure the integrity of NATO airspace, also in times of the Corona pandemic. Their specific task is to prevent aircraft that do not identify themselves to air traffic controllers from becoming a danger to civil aviation in the area. The RAF has been a regular guest in the Baltic States; this is the sixth time the United Kingdom has deployed aircraft on this Air Policing mission, their first deployment dating back to 2004.
In Poland, two major exercises kick off this week. After careful assessment and planning between US Army Europe and the Polish Ministry of Defense, exercise ‘Allied Spirit’, a ‘US-Defender-Europe 20’ linked exercise, originally scheduled for May, will take place at the Drawsko Pomorskie Training Area, Poland, from 05-19 June. Modified from its original design to ensure the safety of soldiers due to COVID-19, the US and Polish bilateral exercise will feature a Polish airborne operation and a US-Polish division-size river crossing. Approximately 6.000 US and Polish soldiers will take part in the exercise. At the same time, and in coordination with Defender 20 but not as part of it, ‘Anakonda-20’, the largest biennial national exercise of the Polish Armed Forces, will be conducted on three different training areas across Poland. The exercise started on 01 June and will last for two weeks, involving about 5.000 soldiers from the Polish Army, Air Force and Navy.
The Corona pandemic also affected NATO’s agreement with Iceland to conduct air patrols of the Icelandic airspace. The last patrols concluded in early April, with the departure of aircraft furnished by the Royal Norwegian Air Force. After a two months interruption, the Italian Air Force is now scheduled to take over the air patrols. Six Italian Air Force F-35 fighter jets are due to deploy to Iceland next week. Their tour will last up until late July. Due to the Corona restrictions applicable for Iceland, the Italian airmen will have to undergo a medical examination including testing for the virus, and be in 14-day quarantine at their home base before departing for Iceland. Upon arrival on the island, they will have to be in quarantine at Keflavík Air Base for another 14 days.