Yesterday at the Lithuanian air base of Šiauliai, the Italian contingent that ensured the air defense service of the Baltic countries handed over deliveries to the Belgian and French allies.
The Eurofighter Typhoons of the Air Force passed the baton to the Belgian F-16s and the French Mirage2000s, after a four-month mandate characterized by demanding and intense activity: 35 "alpha scrambles" and 60 unidentified aircraft intercepted.
A result that the pilots of the National Air Defense departments (4th wing of Grosseto, 36th wing of Gioia del Colle, 37th wing of Trapani and 51st wing of Istrana) achieved by demonstrating responsibility, professionalism and preparation.
For the occasion, the Chief of Staff of the Defense Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone visited the Task Force Air 4th Wing "Baltic Horse III", accompanied by the commander of the Air Force air team, general of the air team Alberto Biavati.
Admiral Cavo Dragone, welcomed by the TFA commander Colonel Federico Sacco Maino, visited the facilities of the Air Task Force and met the staff who ensured logistical, administrative and technical support for the flight operations, making the mission possible. Also present was the interim chargé d'affaires at the Italian Embassy in Lithuania, Dr. Alice Barberis.
Subsequently, the head of SMD attended the "HandOver-TakeOver" ceremony held in the afternoon at the Šiauliai air base. In the presence of diplomatic, military and civil authorities, the head of SMD thanked the representatives of the host nation, the Lithuanian Deputy Minister of Defense Žilvinas Tomskus and the head of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Valdemaras RUPŠYS.
"This mission - said Admiral Cavo Dragone - clearly testifies to one of the founding principles of the Alliance, that of 'collective defence'. I would therefore like to congratulate Colonel Sacco Maino and his team for the excellent work done. 800 hours of flight in four months of activity, ensuring the safety of the Lithuanian skies: a demonstration of efficiency and reactivity. Today's ceremony - concluded the head of SMD - it is a symbol of shared responsibility to ensure the conditions of security for freedom and democratic values, which constitutes the ultimate purpose of NATO's existence. This handover establishes the friendship between our peoples, and lays the foundations for an even more cohesive Europe and for a lasting Euro-Atlantic synergy in the future".
After the handover, the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft ceased to carry out the QRA service, and today morning they took off from Šiauliai to return to their home bases in Italy.