Apr 1, 2014

NATO preps for military exercises in Baltic airspace

The Ministry of Defence presents this scenario: A Lithuanian Air Force C-27J Spartan transport aircraft is flying over the Baltic Sea and suddenly loses radio communication. The Airspace Control Centre of the Kingdom of Sweden immediately allows the Lithuanian aircraft to enter Swedish airspace and raises the Swedish Air Force’s JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets from standby status. Simultaneously, the U.S. Contingent conducting the NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltic States with F-15Cs is activated. As the Swedish aircraft escort the Lithuanian C-27J to the border of international airspace, US fighter jets are waiting to escort it back to the Lithuanian Air Force base in Šiauliai.
This is just one of the training scenarios in a NATO air capability exercise taking place in Baltic airspace from 1-2 April. Other scenarios that will be simulated during the training event include emergency landing and search and rescue operation using the 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 further strengthen security.
The air training event will involve an F-15C Eagle of the U.S. Air Force currently deployed on NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission, a JAS-39 Gripen aircraft of the Swedish Air Force, C-27J Spartan transport aircraft and an Mi-8 helicopter of the Lithuanian Air Force. NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft based in Germany and U.S. KC-135R air refuelling aircraft are also expected to join the exercise.
The training event will include low-altitude flights over Palanga and Vilnius airports.
During the two-day exercise from 1-2 April, Sweden’s JAS-39 aircraft and the C-27J of the Lithuanian Air Force will train in Palanga at about 11.00 and 11.15 hours, respectively. U.S. F-15C fighter jets will be training in Vilnius at about 15.00 hrs.

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