The press conference of Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez at Siauliai airbase was halted by a fighter jet scramble.
The Spanish Prime Minister was visiting the 140 service members of the Spanish Air Force currently based in Lithuania as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission.
The two leaders were holding a press conference in front of the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets assigned to this mission. But the Lithuanian president had to hold his thoughts mid-sentence, as the hangar was suddenly evacuated to make way for the fighters.
— EL PAÍS (@el_pais) July 8, 2021
“The press conference of the Spanish Prime Minister and the President of Lithuania at Siauliai Air Base had to be interrupted,” explained the Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Arvydas Anusauskas. “The Spanish fighters had to take off quickly after the alarm was raised.”
Two unidentified Russian aircraft were detected and tracked by NATO air defense radars and had to be escorted by the Spanish Typhoons of the 14th Wing, usually stationed in Albacete, Spain.
The Spanish media El Pais notes that the same two aircraft and personnel were supposed to showcase such a situation in a drill after the conference. Ironically, they did not have to.
The Baltic Air Policing mission started in 2004 when the Baltic States joined NATO. It is one of the main missions of NATO air forces, which rotate to protect Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian airspaces from incursions, as these countries have no airborne capability of their own. Spain, Italy, and Turkey are currently assigned to the mission.