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Baltic Air Policing: Gripens scrambled several times

Szöveg: Fanny Faragó |  2019. augusztus 13. 20:45

The Hungarian Defence Forces Baltic Air Policing Quick Reaction Alert Block 50 Detachment (HDF QRA Block 50 Det) is currently deployed at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, and has been performing air policing tasks in the Baltic region since May as the 50th rotation of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission. The Hungarian Gripens took off to conduct two Alpha (live) scrambles in 12 hours during a media day held at the Lithuanian base on Tuesday, 13 August.


In cooperation with the Spanish Air Force and the British Royal Air Force, the 100 personnel of the JAS 39 Gripen fighter detachment of the Hungarian Air Force have been safeguarding for three months the airspace of Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and the adjacent region of the Baltic Sea.

The commander of the BAP HDF QRA Block 50 Detachment, Brig.-Gen. Csaba Ugrik received the representatives of the press on Siauliai Air Base, where he gave them a professional briefing on the task system of the Baltic Air Policing Mission. In this, he described the alerts of the QRA fighters in detail, and outlined the cooperation with NATO forces stationed in the region. “One important objective of the Hungarian Defence Forces’ Baltic Air Policing Mission is to enhance the local people’s sense of security. Another objective is to mobilize the Allied and partner forces responsible for safeguarding the region of the Baltic Sea and to develop their capabilities", the commander emphasized.


He added that beyond the air policing tasks, the detachment participates in numerous multinational and joint exercises, and during the flying training missions, it strengthens cooperation with the Spanish and British air forces deployed in the region.

Today the Baltic region has become one of the most sensitive airspaces in Europe, so the pilots, the aircraft maintainers and the other airmen of the detachment on deployment do not have an easy job. During the media day, the Gripens were scrambled twice in the Baltic region in 12 hours. The Hungarian fighter jets were launched to intercept unidentified aircraft in the morning and the early afternoon hours. We were informed that these scrambles had to be ordered because the planes entering the airspace did not have a flight plan, failed to establish radio contact with the air control tower or did not use their responder.


In answer to our question, Brig.-Gen. Csaba Ugrik told us that together with today’s Alpha (live) scrambles, the Gripens of the Hungarian Defence Forces have so far been alerted on 42 occasions in total. The intercepted and identified aircraft included An-24, An-26, Il-18, Il-38, Il-76 transport and reconnaissance aircraft as well as Su-27P, Su-30SM and SU-35S Russian (fighter) bombers. Appraising the BAP mission of the Hungarian Defence Forces, Brig.-Gen. Ugrik emphasized that the Hungarian pilots took to the skies more than 370 times, and logged more than 420 flight hours.

“The Baltic Air Policing Quick Reaction Alert Block 50 Detachment is excellently cooperating with the Spanish Air Force and the British Royal Air Force. I have never had a chance to meet a team more determined and persistent than the aircraft maintainers of the Hungarian Defence Forces", the brigadier-general added. During the visit, the guests were given an insight into the alert process, and learned about the capabilities of the JAS 39 Gripen fighter planes. In what followed, they had opportunity to see the aircrews’ equipment as well.


Photo: Tünde Rácz