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On September 1 air contingents on the Baltic Air-policing mission will rotate in a ceremony is Šiauliai Airbase of the Lithuanian Air Force. The outgoing shift of Polish troops will be replaced by a US Air Contingent with four F-15 C Eagle on the mission.

USA will be in charge of the Baltic Air-policing mission for a third time. The country provided F-16 Fighting Falcon to guard Baltic airspace on October-December of 2005, and F-15 C Eagle on October 2008.

The incoming US rotation consists of over 120 personnel – pilots, technicians, medical personnel, logistic teams, communications specialists, etc. – the majority of which comes from a permanent deployment location in the United Kingdom, RAF Lakenheath. It will be a second deployment on the mission for troops coming from the US Air Forces in Europe, 48th Fighter Wing, 493rd Fighter Squadron, they were deployed for the first time before two years. US Contingent will be under the command of Lt Col Skip Pribyl, commander of the 493rd Fighter Squadron.

Chief of Defence of the Lithuania Maj Gen Arvydas Pocius, US Ambassador in Lithuania HE Anne Elizabeth, Commander Lithuanian Air Force Brig Gen Artūras Leita, Chief of Defence of Latvia Maj Gen Raimonds Graube, Maj Gen Mark R. Zamzow is the Vice Commander, 3rd Air Force, Ramstein Air Base, Chief of Support Centre, Polish Operations Command Adm (R) Adam Mazurek, Chief of Staff – Deputy Commander of the Polish Air Force Brig Gen Slawomir Kałuziński, Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force’s Airbase Lt Col Virginijus Steponavičius, Commander of AMari Airbase of the Estonian Air Force Lt Col Roman Timofejev, Vice Mayor of Šiauliai City Daiva Matonienė, representatives of Poland’s and US embassies and military attachés in Lithuania will be present in the changeover ceremony.

The ceremony will also be attended by the Adjutant General of the US Pennsylvania  National Guard Maj Gen Jessica Lynn Wright on a visit in Lithuania from August 31 to September 4.

The Polish Air Contingent guarded Baltic skies with four MiG-29. Poland had deployed around 100 personnel to conduct the mission. The unit was led by Lt Col Robert Kozak. The unit scrambled MiG-29 for training events for over 80 times. Polish troops also socialized with society of Šiauliai, children of Pakruojis Children’s Home, hosted schoolchildren and student excursions.

NATO countries began sending their air contingents to ensure security of the Baltic skies since March 2004 when the three Baltic States entered NATO. The mission has been conducted on a three-month rotation basis by Belgian, Danish, United Kingdom’s, Norway’s, Dutch, German, US, and Polish troops since then; in spring of 2006 four-month duty period was introduced and Turkey, Spain, Belgium, and France have rotated in the mission till present.

The US Contingent will guard Baltic airspace with single-seat fighters F-15 C Eagle. F-15 C Eagle is highly maneuverable tactical fighters for aerial warfare capable of reaching ultrasonic speed and conducting tasks under any weather conditions.

Tactical-technical characteristics:
Primary function: tactical fighter
Power pland: two Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-100, 220 or turbofan engines with afterburners
Wing span: 13 m
Length: 19,44 m
Height: 5,6 m
Maximum takeoff weight: 30 844 kg
Maximum speed: 1875 miles/h (Mach 2.5 plus)
Range: 1,500 km; with external fuel tanks: 2.100 km
Ceiling: 19 812 m

More information on F-15 at: http://www.af.mil/information/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=101

Source: kam.lt