Gallery: Polish armed forces head hints at Baltic States air defense system

A proposed air defense system covering all three Baltic States is both likely and appealing, said head of Poland's defense forces, Lieut. Gen. Rajmund T. Andrzejczak said Monday.

Lieut. Gen. Andrzejczak is visting Estonia, attending the Riigikogu on Monday and is observing the annual large-scale Spring Storm military exercise in Klooga, Harju County, Tuesday.

''I am following Spring Storm, and our units there, but I am also interested in operational plans and serious initiatives like air defense systems,'' Lieut. Gen. Andrzejczak, who is visiting Estonia, was quoted by the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) as saying.

''An air defense system operating across the region still looks very likely,'' he went on.

''We understand there are challenges facing the defense of the Baltic States. Poland, as a NATO member, is aware of its responsibilities in the region and is very interesting in giving support,'' he said, noting that F-16 fighters in Polish air force service were recently in Lithuania.

"We will continue to strengthen the debate in areas still in the pipeline," noted Andrzejczak, adding that Polish fighters are expected to be stationed in Estonia in 2020.

As reported on ERR News, Sukhoi Su-22 variable-sweep wing fighter-bombers took part in training flights over northerastern Estonia last Friday, as part of Spring Storm.

Lieut. Gen. Andrzejczak is discussing bilateral cooperation issues with his Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) colleagues, including in intelligence and cyber-defense, while in Estonia.

''We are looking for further areas of cooperation and opportunities to enhance our capabilities. Our role as military personnel is to ensure our capability in collaboration, mutual understanding, and mutual trust," he said.

Common view

Lieut. Gen. Andrzejczak said Poland shares a common view with Estonia concerning security in the region, with his weekly visit contributing to the exchange of information between the Baltic States, and the strengthening of a common security architecture.

"Poland is doing everything possible to build a secure environment, and these exercises are a component of that," he continued.

However, he stopped short of clarifying whether US MIM-104 Patriot Surface-to-air missile systems, which Poland is set to acquire, would be involved in the proposed Baltic airspace defense.

"We are members of NATO and we have one airspace, so there are no limits in our considerations - no limits to exercises or military operations," he told the Lithuanian branch of BNS.

Lieut. Gen. Andrzejczak and his delegation have also visited Ämari Air Base, west of Tallinn and one of two bases used by NATO jets in their Baltic air policing duties, where he was greeted by head of the EDF Maj. Gen. Martin Herem, and has also met defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa) and attended a wreath-laying ceremony in Freedom Square in Tallinn.

Poland joined NATO in 1999, and was one of the strongest supporters of the Baltic States, to its northeast, all three of which joined in the same year, 2004. Defense cooperation has grown every year since, ERR's online news reports, with the two countries jointly participating in NATO training exercises.

Lieut. Gen. Rajmund T. Andrzejczak. became Chief of the General Staff of Poland's armed forces in July 2018.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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