Italy ends eight-month NATO air policing mission in Baltics

Brussels, Aug 28 (IANS) The Italian Air Force detachment has ended its eight-month mission for NATO’s Air Policing in the Baltic region, NATO said in a press release on Friday.

The closing ceremony took place at Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania, where four Italian Eurofighter Typhoon fighters and a team of around 100 military personnel had been deployed for the last eight months since January 1, Xinhua reported.

NATO launched the Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission to protect Baltic skies in 2004 when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the alliance.

Italy was the first NATO ally to have supported the BAP mission for a full eight months in a row and the only NATO member to have performed all NATO Interim Air Policing missions in Slovenia, Albania, Iceland and the Baltics, NATO’s allied command operation said.

During its deployment, “Italian Unit has always applied the NATO concept, flying nearly 900 hours in around 500 sorties, conducting around 40 real air intercept missions alongside 164 training missions,” said detachment commander Colonel Vito Cracas.