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Vice Minister of National Defence V. Umbrasas: „The U.S. fighter jets in Lithuania are the expression of security in this region and in NATO as a whole


On 30 August the United States of America took over the control of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission from Poland at Siauliai Air Base of the Air Force of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. For the upcoming four months the U.S. with fighters F-15C Eagle will ensure security of Baltic airspace together with fighters F-16 of the Belgian Air Force deployed in the Air Base of the Estonian Air Force in Amari.


The Air Police Mission changeover ceremony was attended by Vice Minister of National Defence Vytautas Umbrasas, Chief of Joint Staff of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Major General Vitalijus Vaikšnoras, Commander of NATO AIRCOM General Tod D. Wolters, delegations of Poland and the U.S., leadership of the Air Force of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, representatives of Šiauliai, other guests.


„Today we are particularly grateful to Poland and the U.S. who have sent their troops to the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission. The U.S and Poland are the closest Allies of Lithuania and therefore their robust support and determination to enhance the security measures and safeguard our skies are extremely valued by every Lithuanian citizen. Our people know that all Alliance is and will be here in all domains if need be. – Vice Minister of National Defence V. Umbrasas said. – NATO core principle “one for all and all for one” today is valid as ever, and the U.S fighter jets are the sign of stability not only in this region but also in NATO as a whole".


Commander of NATO AIRCOM General Tod D. Wolters in his turn thanked Lithuania for hospitality and support to this highly important NATO mission in protecting the Baltic airspace.


The U.S Air Force will participate in the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission for the fifth time in this way contributing to the NATO peace time task to protect the Alliance airspace and demonstrating the long-standing commitment to ensure the security of the Baltic States and the integrity of NATO borders. The U.S. participates in this mission with seven fighters F-15C „Eagle“ and about 140 personnel from the 48th Fighter Wing, „Lakenheath“ Base deployed in the United Kingdom.


The personnel of the Polish Air Force who have completed their rotation conducted the mission with four fighters F-16 „Fighting Falcon“.


NATO nations have started sending their personnel and fighters to safeguard the airspace of the Baltic States since March of 2004 when Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia joined NATO. Since that time 17 Allies have already conducted the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission. This will be the 45th mission of the U.S. contingent from its start in 2004.



Speech by the Vice Minister at the Ceremony.


Photo credit Antanas Gedrimas (AF AB)

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