The handover ceremony (HOTO - Hand Over Take Over) between the Italian and the Spanish contingent sanctioned the conclusion of the mission Baltic Thunder, which has seen the Italian contingent deployed at the Šiauliai air base in Lithuania since September 2020.
The Italian TFA (Task Force Air), with four Eurofighter aircraft Typhoon and with pilots, technicians and specialists of the Air Force, it guaranteed, 24 hours a day and 24 days a week, the defense of the airspace of the three Baltic republics, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as part of the NATO operation of Baltic Air Policing.
The closing ceremony was attended by Air Divisional General Claudio Gabellini (NATO representative as commander of the DACC - Deployable Air Control Center, and national representative as commander of the Aerospace Operations Command), the Italian ambassador to Lithuania, Diego Ungaro and the Spanish ambassador to Lithuania, José María Robles Fraga, while the Lithuanian side was attended by the deputy defense minister mr. Margiris Abukevičius and the commander of the Air Forces, col. Dainius Guzas.
The ceremony was the occasion for the commander of the Lithuanian Air Forces, Colonel Dainius Guzas, to award the medal to Colonel Daniele Donati, commander of the TFA Siauliai "Divisions of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Medal for Distinguished Service" to "The exceptional performance and professionalism demonstrated in carrying out the Air Policing mission over the skies of the three Baltic nations".
Italy had the leadership of the NATO operation for eight months, or for two blocks (54 and 55), and has carried out a total of about 900 flight hours, with about 40 Alpha-Scramble real (Air Defense interventions) and over 160 Scramble training (simulated events for operational readiness training).
He also participated in various exercises and international events for the maintenance of the full operation of the TFA and the operators of the CRC of Karmelava.
Despite the difficulties due to the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, the staff of the TFA managed to interact with the local community, receiving both visits from the authorities and participating in charitable initiatives for the weakest people, such as children, elderly people and disabled.
All Italian personnel have demonstrated that they possess those values of solidarity and cooperation that are the basis of being military.