Spain to carry out NATO patrol in Baltic countries.

A Lithuanian air force commander announced on Monday that Spain was to carry out NATO patrol missions in the three Baltic Sea countries' airspace.

Audronis Navickas, commander of Lithuania's Aokniai Air Base, told local media in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius, that Spain would take over from Turkey in patrolling within Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia's territorial airspace from Aug. 1. Spain's patrol mission will last four months.

This would be NATO's 10th "Air Police" patrol mission in these three Baltic countries' airspace since the three nations joined NATO in March 2004, Navickas said.

Spain would dispatch three French-made Mirage F-1 fighters and 86 servicemen to attend the succession ceremony on Aug. 1, to be held at Zokniai Air Base, near Siauliai, a northern Lithuanian city, said Navickas.

The first group of 40 Spanish servicemen and some of the mission's supplies arrived in Lithuania on Monday night aboard a Ukrainian An-124 cargo plane, local media reported.

So far, Belgium, Denmark, Britain, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, the United States and Poland have completed their turns at aerial patrol duty in the three Baltic countries' airspace.

[Source: Xinhua News Agency, Madrid, 25Jul06]

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