Transferring key to the sky of Baltic states
On April 26 in QRA Base of Lithuanian Air Forces in Siauliai a ceremony of transferring „symbolic key to the sky of Baltic states” between commanders of Polish and German contingents took place.
During the ceremony of transferring duty German soldiers who were finishing duty were awarded with Air Policing mission medals for the first time in history of Baltic air policing missions. The medal has been established by the common decision of defence ministers of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia.
The Polish Ambassador to Lithuania Janusz Skolimowski said he is convinced that “Polish Military Contingency ORLIK 4 will accomplish its tasks during Air Policing Mission well, especially as Polish Air Force takes responsibility for Baltic states air space for the fourth time”.
Traditional transferring of the symbolic key to the air space of Baltic states between commander of Polish contingent ORLIK 4 LtCol Leszek Błach and commander of German contingent LtCol. Matias Fensteraif was the most important moment of the ceremony.
“From tomorrow (April 27) Polish Military Contingency ORLIK 4 will be in permanent readiness for carrying out Air Policing Mission over territories of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Every time it is necessary our aircraft will guard the security of the air space of Baltic states.” - Commander of Polish contingent ORLIK 4 LtCol Leszek Błach ensured the hosts.
On behalf of Minister of National Defence the commander of the 1st Tactical Air Wing BrigGen pilot Tadeusz Mikutel and Chief of Staff of Lithuanian Air Force Col Antanas Jucius representing the Defence Minister of Lithuania signed technical agreement regulating the stay of Polish Military Contingency ORLIK 4 on the territory of the Republic of Lithuania.
The ceremony finished with common flight over the airport of a pair of Polish MiG-29 from 22nd Tactical Air Base in Malbork and two German F-4 Phantom from 71st Fighter Wing „Richthofen”, which flew back to Germany.
Among others Deputy Defence Minister of Lithuania Vytautas Umbrasas, commander of the Air Force of Lithuania MajGen Edvardas Mazeikis, commander of the Air Base in Siauliai LtCol Virginijus Stepanovicius, Deputy German Ambassador to Lithuania Maximilian Hurnaus, commander of the 71st Fighter Wing "Richthofen” Col Gerhard Roubal, Polish Ambassador to Lithuania Janusz Skolimowski, chief of Command Centre of Operational Command of Polish Armed Forces BrigGen Andrzej Reudowicz, commander of the 1st Tactical Air Wing BrigGen pilot Tadeusz Mikutel representing Polish Air Force, Polish defence attaché in Lithuania Col Zbigniew Wasilewski, LtCol Roman Timofejev representing Air Force of Estonia and many other guests participated in the ceremony.
Polish Military Contingency ORLIK 4 will guard the air space of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from April 27 to August 31 2012. For Polish Air Force it is the fourth mission in Lithuania (2006, 2008, 2010). The present deployment comes from the 22nd Air Base in Malbork and includes also soldiers from other Air Force units. For the Malbork base it is already the second participation in Air Policing mission. MiG-29 aircraft will be used to protect Baltic sky.
Text and photos:
Polish Military Contingency ORLIK 4
Capt. Grzegorz Grabarczuk