February 29, 2024

German Air Force deploys Eurofighters to Latvia for air security in Baltic region


German Air Force Latvia
File photo of a German Eurofighter (US Air Force)

The German contingent consists of approximately 100 officers and soldiers from the 74th Tactical Air Squadron and is commanded by Lt. Col. Sven Jacob.

The German Air Force will send five Eurofighter jets to Latvia on February 26, 2024 to take over Baltic air patrol missions from the Polish Air Force.

“The fragile security environment requires a continuous strengthening of NATO's deterrence and defense capabilities. We need to continue working on the implementation of the new defense plan by determining the necessary forces, developing new capabilities and adapting the command structure,” Estonian Defense Minister Kusti Salm said in an official statement quoted by NATO Air Forces. He added: “NATO air security missions have been operating seamlessly from Amari for 10 years already, which is a clear testament to NATO's resolute readiness to protect the airspace of our allies in the Baltic Sea region and to protect all our allies. This is the second time Poland is taking part in the mission at Amari. I would like to thank Lt. Col. Michał Złow and the Polish contingent from Orlik-12 for their professionalism and dedication, which contributed to the success of this mission.”

Latvia's Lillevarde Air Base will host Baltic Air Guard units for the first time. In May 2023, Latvian Defense Minister Inara Mrnije announced that NATO's Baltic Air Guard (BAP) mission will be based at Lillevarde Air Base from spring to autumn 2024. Due to runway renovation work being carried out at Amari Air Base in Estonia, which has previously hosted the mission, the base will become a temporary home for the Baltic Air Guard, complementing the Baltic Air Guard units based in Siaulai.

According to information released by NATO, the runway and airfield at Amari Air Base will undergo routine repairs until October. The base will remain available for rotorcraft operations. In addition, NATO will establish a German deployable control and reporting center at Amari to strengthen NATO's air surveillance and control architecture in the Baltic Sea region. QRA missions for fast jet aircraft are expected to continue after construction work is completed.

Lithuania's Siauliai Air Base is currently home to Belgian F-16 and French Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets. Poland's F-16 force was based in Amari.

Liervalde is intended to be a temporary base.

Germany's BAP rotation is scheduled to begin on March 1, 2024, following an inspection conducted by the NATO Joint Air Operations Centre in Weden. Germany replaced Poland's Orlik 12th Army unit with four F-16s commanded by Lt. Col. Michał Złoty.

A regular contributor to TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-founder of DefensePhoto.com. Specialist in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy, and media communications.


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