Prague, Czech Republic – The Czech Air Force will guard the Baltic air space until the end of September, Defence Minister Černochová announced this week, extending the mission by two additional months.
Ms. Černochová said that the decision was made in response to an official request by Lithuania and does not require governmental or parliamentary approval.
The mission was initially supposed to end at the end of July.
Czech Defence Ministry spokesman Jiří Táborský told the Czech News Agency (CTK) that Denmark will take over the protection of the Baltic airspace from October.
Five Czech fighter jets and nearly 100 military personnel have already been monitoring the Baltic airspace as part of a NATO mission since early April, at the time operating alongside the French and Spanish air forces.
NATO states located on the Alliance’s eastern frontier have significantly stepped up their military cooperation since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of February.
This is the fourth mission of the Czech Air Force in the Baltics, according to Radio Prague.
Earlier this month, the Czech Republic confirmed that it could guard the airspace of neighbouring Slovakia to allow Bratislava to send its own fleet of fighter jets to Ukraine.
Since Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia do not have sufficient aircrafts and fighter jets to guard their own airspace, NATO established a so-called NATO Air Policing capability at the Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania in 2004, followed by a second presence at the Ämari Air Base, in Estonia, in 2014 – allowing Alliance members to patrol and guard the Baltic skies for them.