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Discussion with Italy on the Rotational NATO Air Defence Model continues, says Chief of Defence of Lithuania

Discussion with Italy on the Rotational NATO Air Defence Model continues, says Chief of Defence...

On April 9-10 Chief of Defence of Lithuania General Valdemaras Rupšys is in Italy on a work visit. The trip agenda began with laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Altar of the Fatherland monument in Rome with Chief of Staff of the Italian Army Lt Gen Gaetano Zauner. Later Chief of Defence had a meeting with Chief of the Defence Staff of the Italian Republic Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone and a discussion on Italy’s involvement in the Baltic Air Policing Mission and implementation of the Rotational NATO Air Defence Model.   

“We are grateful to Italy and your Armed Forces for camaraderie and effective cooperation.  The Italians have wide-ranging interests that also cover our region, the Rotational NATO Air Defence Model gives us an opportunity to raise the cooperation with Italy a level up. Admiral Giuseppe Cavo Dragone and I have agreed to develop this discussion further  and look for military solutions together,” Gen Rupšys said after the meeting.

In 2015 Italian airmen with four Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets carried out their first ever NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states flown from the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai.  Italy’s 5th rotation ended in November 2023 with the next missions planned to come in 2024 and 2025, based at Šiauliai as well.  

In June 2023 NATO Allies agreed on the Rotational Air Defence Model which would bring Western reinforcement to the Baltic Sea region air defence: ground-based air defence systems would be coupled with rotational air capability reinforcements. A properly implemented Rotational NATO Air Defence Model would allow to prevent Russia’s Anti – access/Area denial (A2AD) efforts in the Baltic Sea region. 

Then the topic of military cooperation with Italy was further discussed at the Joint Operations Command (JOC) where Gen Rupšys met with Commander JOC Lieutenant General Francesco Paolo Figliuolo. Chief of Defence once again invited the Italian military to join Lithuania’s air defence exercises which could be Italy’s first contribution in building the air defence system in the eastern flank of NATO.  

During the visit to the EUNAVFORMED IRINI Operational Headquarters where Lithuania currently has one delegate, Chief of Defence was briefed on the results and course of the Operation by Deputy Commander G. Fontarensky. Also, a meeting regarding spare part supply was held with representatives of the Italian enterprise that sold three transport aircraft C-27J Spartan to Lithuania in July 2006.