PKW Orlik mission 9. 2020.

Kraków 2020-05-20

PKW Orlik mission 9. 2020.

Polish Military Contingent ORLIK 9.

Lockheed Martin F-16 Jastrząb. 2019 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Lockheed Martin F-16 Jastrząb. 2019 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

For the ninth time Polish Soldiers took part in the defense of the airspace of the Baltic States. This time the contingent issued 32 Tactical Air Base from Lask. On December 27, 2019, at the 32nd Tactical Air Base, soldiers of the PKW Orlik 9 shift were farewelled, who served in Estonia for five months as part of the Allied Forces of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The farewell began with submitting a report to the Training Inspector, Maj. Gen. Marek Sokołowski, by the commander of the ceremony Lt. Col. Krzysztof Bień. After reviewing the subunits, the national flag was raised to the sounds of the hymn. Families of soldiers and invited guests were greeted by the commander of 32 Tactical Air Base Colonel pil. Tomasz Jatczak. Then read the Resolution of the President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda about the use of the Polish Military Contingent. The state flag of the commander of PKW Orlik 9 Lieutenant Colonel was handed over. pil. Krzysztof Duda.

The main task of the soldiers of PKW Orlik 9 was the supervision of air space (Air Policing) in the Baltic States: the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Lithuania and the Republic of Latvia.

Until 2004, NATO, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Slovenia joined, only Iceland and Luxembourg did not have their own air force. In the case of Iceland, the Air Policing mission is carried out by the United States. The airspace of Luxembourg is defended by the Belgians.

In the spring of 2004, the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) asked the Alliance in a joint statement to protect their airspace from the first day of membership. The allies have decided that the Air Policing mission for the Baltic States will be carried out on a rotational basis by NATO members for three years. The first mission began on March 29, 2004. Due to the aggressive policy of comrade Vladimir Putn, the mission was extended indefinitely. The number of airports used for the mission has also increased. Not only one Sauli airport in Lithuania, but also the airport in Estonia, Ämari base and the Polish airport Malbork are used to protect the airspace of the Baltic States.

On January 1, 2020, the Polish Contingent was transferred to the Ämari base. Polish pilots performed the BAP mission for the first time operating from the Estonian Ämari base. The Polish contingent numbered 150 soldiers and 4 multi-purpose combat aircraft F-16 C Block 52+ Jastrząb. Polish soldiers were on duty along with Czech soldiers who used JAS-39 Gripen aircraft.

The Poles took over duty on January 2, 2020. The delegation ceremony was attended by: permanent secretary of the Estonian Ministry of Defense Kristjan Prikk, chief of staff of the Estonian military aviation brig. Veiko-Vello Palm, as well as commander of the Air Operations Center and commander of the aviation component, Maj. Gen. pil. Dariusz Malinowski and commander of Czech aviation, Maj. Gen. pil. Petr Hromek. The Alliance was represented by the deputy commander of the Northern Joint NATO Air Operations Center, Brig. pil. Sławomir Żakowski, whose unit is responsible for the Baltic Air Policing mission. Poland was the leading force in the mission of all NATO soldiers. Poland was one of the most active allies during its 16 years of existence.

A few days earlier, on December 30, 2019, the Danish air force contingent in Siauliai ended its service under BAP. During their stay in Lithuania, the Danes also made over 10 alarm starts and flew a total of over 150 hours. A Belgian contingent remained in Szawle. Belgians guarded the Baltic States from September 2019 to mid-May 2020, using F-16 A aircraft.

Poland was on duty by PKW Orlik 9 until May 15, 2020.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman