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NATO air capabilities train in Baltic airspace


C-27J Spartan transport aircraft of the Lithuanian Air Force is flying over the Baltic Sea. Suddenly it loses radio communication which makes it impossible to travel further. The Airspace Control Centre of the Kingdom of Sweden raises Swedish Air Force’s JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets on standby. Simultaneously, the Swedish Airspace Control Centre is warned to allow the aircraft with lost radio communication enter Sweden’s airspace. To that end the U.S. Contingent conducting the NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltic States with F-15C is activated. The U.S. fighter jets meet the aircraft with lost radio communication at the border of international airspace to where it has already been escorted by Swedes. The aircraft gets intercepted and is further escorted to the Air Base of the Lithuanian Air Force in Šiauliai.


Although events of such or similar kind may happen in any part of the world to any aircraft, this specific scenario is a part of NATO’s air capability exercise that will take place over the Baltics on April 1-2.


Other tasks that will be simulated during the training event include emergency landing and search and rescue operation using Mi-8 helicopter of the Lithuanian Air Force.


“As unrest has escalated in the near vicinity of the Baltic States, NATO has augmented the Baltic Air Policing mission with additional warplanes to be ensuring our security even stronger. That is why this BRTE is not only an evident proof of Alliance solidarity and commitments but also an opportunity for Lithuanian military to refurbish their knowledge and interoperability with allies and partners,” Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas says.


The air training event will involve F-15C Eagle of the U.S. Air Force currently deployed on NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, JAS-39 Gripen aircraft of the Swedish Air Force, C-27J Spartan transport aircraft and Mi-8 helicopter of the Lithuanian Air Force. Furthermore, NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft based in Germany and U.S. KC-135R air refuelling aircraft are expected to join the exercise.


The training event will include low-altitude flights in Palanga and Vilnius airports in order to improve the corresponding procedures and to train cooperation with civilian airports.


The Baltic Regional Training Event (BRTE) has already been arranged for five years in succession by Headquarters Allied Air Command (COM AIRCOM) Ramstein and Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem (CAOC Uedem).


Usually, three BRTEs are organised every year. The first and the third BRTEs of the same year cover coordination of the actions between the participating contingents and air capabilities of NATO allies and partners. The second training event is dedicated to honing air-land communications procedures.


BRTEs demonstrate NATO commitments to collective defence, Alliance solidarity and confidence. Also, it is an opportunity for NATO member states to work and train side by side.


Introduced as NATO air policing training events in 2008, today BRTEs are wide-spectrum air capability exercises.


The Baltic Regional Training Events are coordinated with relevant civilian institutions and departments. NATO’s Partnership for Peace participant countries are also invited to take part in BRTEs.


For the Media:


Media representatives willing to attend and take video footage of the event are invited to register at 00370 41 59 21 51 or by email [email protected] (the Air Base) no later than March 31, 17.00 hrs. Arrive at: Lithuanian Air Force Base (Lakūnų str. 3). Arrival time: 10.00 hrs. Programme: an opportunity to hear a presentation and view the aircraft after the training event, going to the Quick Reaction Alert area, F-15 C Eagle take-off. Interview opportunities with Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas, Commander Lithuanian Air Force Major General Edvardas Mažeikis, commander of the Combined Air Operations Centre-Uedem, commander of the U.S. Air Contingent, and service personnel.


Media representatives who will be going to the Air Base from Vilnius will be able to use MOD transport. Those willing to do so are to register by email at [email protected] or at 00370 5 273 5519 no later than Monday, March 31, 17.00 hrs, indicating TRANSPORT as email subject. The number of seats is limited. Departure: from in front of the Ministry of National Defence (Totorių str. 25/3) – April 1, 07.00 hrs.



During both days of the exercise, April 1-2, Sweden’s JAS-39 aircraft will be training in Palanga at about 11.00 hrs, and C-27J of the Lithuanian Air Force at about 11.15 hrs, while U.S. F-15C fighter jets will be training in Vilnius at about 15.00 hrs.


Photo credits (MOD archive): Thomas Dillschneider, Gintaras Šiuparis, David Schreier

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