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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence
(1) from where UK fast jets were directed during airspace patrols in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania since 2004;
(2) how many times his Department has refused a request from a NATO member-state for UK jets to patrol its airspace; and what reason for the refusal was given in each case;
(3) how many patrol missions have been flown by UK fast jets to protect Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian airspace since 2004; and what the duration was of each such mission;
(4) what estimate he has made of the cost to the public purse of UK air-patrolling operations to protect Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian airspace since 2004;
(5) how many (a) UK fast jets, by type, and (b) UK service personnel have taken part in operations to patrol the airspace of (i) Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and (ii) Iceland since 2004; and what the duration of each operation was;
(6) when UK fast jets have been assigned to patrol Icelandic airspace since 2004.
From October 2004 to January 2005, four RAF Tornado F3 aircraft undertook the NATO Baltic Air Policing role for the States of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. They were based at Siauliai airbase in Lithuania supported by 105 UK military personnel. UK military aircraft have not undertaken any Icelandic Air Policing since 2004.
During the 2004 Lithuania detachment, while remaining under UK national Command, the operational control for Quick Reaction Alert launches was the responsibility of the NATO commander at Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Kalkar. Since 2004, Baltic Air Policing has become the responsibility of CAOC Uedem, but no UK aircraft have been involved.
Other operational commitments, including to NATO-led operations, have meant that in agreement with all NATO members, we have been unable to contribute to these Air Policing roles since 2004. We are pleased that other Allied nations, a number of which undertake fewer operational commitments than the UK, have agreed to assume the burden and fill the rotations as required.
Information on the number of sorties flown or their duration during the Lithuania detachment is no longer held.
Baltic Air Policing was conducted from within the Tornado F3 force funded annual flying hours and therefore, was provided at no additional cost. Other detachment costs are no longer held, but these would have been reduced by the contribution of host nation support by the Lithuanian Government.