At Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania, it was all change for the NATO Air Policing mission as the Belgium Air Force handed over the Baltic Air Policing Mission to the Spanish Air Force, with the Royal Air Force also joining to enhance the mission this summer to replace the already departed Portuguese Air Force.
Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, the Officer Commanding 135 Expeditionary Air Wing:
“We are pleased to be back in Lithuania to play our part in the NATO air policing operation, which is a high priority for the UK. We’re very much looking forward to working with our NATO partners and building on the successes of the Belgian deployment.
The Covid pandemic has, of course, presented many challenges in the planning and execution of the UK deployment but I’m pleased to say that the whole UK/Lithuanian team has worked hard together to overcome them. As far as Baltic Air Policing is concerned, it’s very much business as usual.”
Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt
Officer Commanding 135 EAW
The handover was marked by a small formal ceremony, due to the COVID-19 restrictions, where the Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force Colonel Guzas Dainius thanked the outgoing Belgian Air Force detachment for their outstanding support and warmly welcomed the RAF and Spanish Air Force to Siauliau Air Base and Lithuania.
Col Dainius said:
“We are representing four different countries with four different historical backgrounds…I express my appreciation to the Belgian Airmen and Women for their efforts in Baltic Air Policing, and now to the Spanish and UK Royal Air Force that will be on detachment for these next four months.”
Colonel Guzas Dainius
Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force
The RAF personnel begin their latest NATO Air Policing mission, against a background of the challenging circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EAW personnel together with their NATO colleagues have overcome these challenges by working together under the very stringent conditions that ensure safety for all as mandated UK and Lithuanian Governments to counter COVID-19.