The US Air Force’s (USAF) 48th Fighter Wing has deployed additional aircraft and personnel to support NATO’s air policing mission in the Baltics, at the request of the Baltic allies.
A total of six F-15C fighters and two KC-135 Stratoranker aircraft, carrying more than 60 airmen, departed RAF Lakenheath in Brandon, and RAF Mildenhal in Suffolk, UK, respectively, for deployment to Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania.
An unnamed US defence official said the action comes at the request of the US’ Baltic allies and "further demonstrates our commitment to Nato security."
The 48th FW is providing 150 airmen and four F-15C Eagles in support of the Baltic Air Policing mission out of Siauliai Air Base, as the 48th Air Expeditionary Group.
The US and its allies have provided on-call aircraft on a rotational basis to help identify and respond to violations of Baltic airspace over the past ten years.
Other Nato countries contributing airmen and aircraft for the mission, which is slated to continue through 2018, include France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and the UK.
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In addition to augmenting Baltic air policing mission, the US is also increasing joint training through its aviation detachment (AVDET) in Poland.
Poland currently hosts ten USAF personnel to support rotations of US F-16s and C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft for joint training with the Polish Air Force, according to the official.
Image: A USAF F-15C Eagle takes off from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. Photo: courtesy of USAF Staff Sgt. Emerson Nunez/Released.