Baltic Bash

F-15s deployed to Siauliai, Lithuania, took part in a one-day Baltic joint air-policing exercise Oct. 21 with NATO partners the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Four F-15s from the 493rd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, Britain, arrived at Siauliai in late September to take over the NATO mission of protecting the airspace of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for three months starting Oct. 1. The focus of the exercise was to enhance air interoperability between the three Baltic States and the other NATO countries and train personnel in applying methods of NATO’s concept for integrated air defense, according to a USAF release. NATO began providing assets to protect the airspace of its Baltic members in 2004 and plans to continue the mission through 2011. Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Vilnius yesterday, where he met with Lithuanian defense officials. He said that NATO and its Baltic members have time to discuss the air-policing mission and the way forward past 2011, according to an AFPS report.