Hungary Gripens conclude mission policing Baltic airspace

The Gripen fighter jets of the Hungarian airforce have concluded policing Baltic airspace, a task they performed over the past four months as part of a NATO mission.

“The Hungarian airforce’s fighter jets performed their duty in a war-time situation when there is a war in Ukraine and the tension between NATO and Russia is the highest since the cold war,” Gabor Gion, the foreign ministry’s state secretary for strategic analysis, said at the Siauliai airbase in Lithuania on Thursday. As the Hungarian airforce proved its skills in the Baltic Air Policing mission (BAP), Hungary indicated willingness to participate again in 2025, he said.

BAP Commander Attila Vanyik noted that the current mission has involved 4 Gripens and 77 troops serving as part of the Quick Reaction Alert protocol, with Czech support. Under the protocol, the jets must intercept unidentified aircraft within 15 minutes of receiving an alert.

Vanyik, the mission’s first Hungarian chief, said the Gripens responded to 19 alerts, all due to unidentified Russian planes, including fighter jets and military transport planes, entering international airspace surrounding the Baltic airspace without submitting a flight-plan.

Answering a question, he said the Russian planes often used the narrow Baltic Sea corridor of the St Petersburg-Kaliningrad route.

Hungary has already participated in the mission in 2015 and 2019.

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