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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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