ATF joins NATO’s policing mission in the Baltic
Sept. 3, 2014, Siaullai, Lithuania - The Canadian Air Task Force (ATF) officially joined NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission following a hand-over ceremony yesterday in Siauliai, Lithuania, as Canada’s continues to promote security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe in the face of increasing Russian hostility.
In the wake of increased military aggression from Russia, Baltic Air Policing is a demonstration of Allied solidarity and NATO’s dedication to the security of its members, said Defence Minister Rob Nicholson. “Canada is proud to support stability in the region by participating in this important mission.”
“This new tasking for the Canadian Air Task Force represents another component of Operation Reassurance, and reinforces Canada’s continued commitment to promoting security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe,” said Lieutenant-General Stuart A. Beare, the commander of the Canadian Joint Operations Command
While participating in BAP, four CF-18 Hornet aircraft and more than 130 airmen and airwomen from the Royal Canadian Air Force will work with NATO Allies from September to December 2014, to preserve the integrity of the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and react to any intrusions.
The Canadian ATF recently relocated to Siauliai, Lithuania, from Câmpia Turzii, Romania, where they had conducted training with their NATO Allies from early May until August 22. The Canadian ATF arrived in Siauliai on August 26.
Based on the operational requirements for the BAP mission, four of the CF-18 Hornets which deployed to Romania were relocated to Lithuania to participate in BAP. Two Canadian aircraft will remain in Europe. The decision about the number of Canadian aircraft required for participation in BAP was made following planning and coordination with NATO and Canada’s Allies.
Baltic Air Policing is an important activity undertaken by NATO allies to preserve the integrity of NATO European airspace and safeguard NATO nations from air-based threats. Portugal, Netherlands, Germany and Canada are all contributed forces to the BAP mission. Canada and Portugal will be operating side by side out of Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania.
“The Canadian Air Task Force is an agile and flexible organization that is always ready to employ air power and provide associated support wherever and whenever Canada needs its service,” said Lieutenant-Colonel David Pletz, the commander of ATF Lithuania. “We look forward to working with our Portuguese air force partners to help protect the integrity of the Baltic airspace.
The Canadian ATF based in Lithuania is composed of personnel from 2 Wing and 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec; 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta; 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario;14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia;17 Wing Winnipeg, Manitoba; and 22 Wing North Bay, Ontario. These personnel include aircrew and personnel who provide operational support to air assets, such as force protection, intelligence, aerospace management and maintenance coordination.