A Mildenhall 100 ARW KC-135 refuels an F-15C Eagle over Iceland during a training mission on 9 November 2013 (Image © Airman 1st Class Dana J. Butler / USAF)

US Reaction: Eagles and Stratotanker to the Baltics

A Mildenhall 100 ARW KC-135 refuels an F-15C Eagle over Iceland during a training mission on 9 November 2013 (Image © Airman 1st Class Dana J. Butler / USAF)
A Mildenhall 100 ARW KC-135 refuels an F-15C Eagle over Iceland during a training mission on 9 November 2013 (Image © Airman 1st Class Dana J. Butler / USAF)

The US Air Force will send six additional McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F-15C Eagle air superiority fighters and a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker to Šiauliai Airbase in Lithuania as a reaction the current crisis between Russian and Ukraine.

The announcement follows US Defence Secretary Chuch Hagel’s testimony to the Senate about augmenting the NATO run Baltic Air Policing. On 4 March Sweden also strengthened its Baltic defences by forward basing a pair of JAS 39 Gripens at Visby airport on the island of Gotland with leaving the possibility open for further increases.

Four F-15C fighters are already based at Šiauliai, where they took over the standard four plane mission from the Belgian Air Component F-16s. All current and new Eagles come from the 493rd Fighter Squadron “Reapers” of the 48th Fighter Wing based at RAF Lakenheath, England. The KC-135 comes from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron to the 100th Air Refuelling Wing based at RAF Mildenhall, a bit more than a stone’s throw from Lakenheath.


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The Baltic Air Policing mission rotates every half a year between NATO’s member states. The former Soviet Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are since 2004 part of the military alliance. Since they lack proper air defence assets themselves, other NATO members jump in on the joint task to protect the aerospace of its member nations.

Among the regulars in the Baltics are the Czech Air Force Gripens that fly with 211. squadron. The units commander recently gave an extensive interview to AIRheads↑Fly. Read the full exclusive AHF↑Inside: The Czech Prize Fighter here.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger

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A pair of F-15Cs train an interception with a Lithuanian Air Force L-39 Albatros during an earlier deployment in 2008 (Image © USAF)
A pair of F-15Cs train an interception with a Lithuanian Air Force L-39 Albatros during an earlier deployment in 2008 (Image © USAF)