Lakenheath F-15s Wrap Up Baltic Air Policing Deployment, Show Off Intercepts

Two Russian Navy Su-30 Flankers are seen during an intercept by USAF F-15Cs deployed to Lithuania as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission. Screenshot from US Air Forces in Europe video

F-15Cs and airmen from RAF Lakenheath, England, wrapped up their four-month-long stint flying air policing missions in Eastern Europe after conducting about 30 intercepts of Russia aircraft in the region.

The approximately 140 airmen and aircraft of the 493rd Fighter Squadron were deployed to Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, and are handing off the air policing mission to the Royal Danish Air Force on Jan. 8. During the deployment, the airmen were responsible for guarding the airspace over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

During the deployment, airmen responded and intercepted Russian aircraft in a “safe and professional manner” about 30 times, 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron Detachment Commander Lt. Col. Cody Blake said in a video released by US Air Forces in Europe.

The video shows the squadron quickly launching in F-15s to respond to two Russian Navy Su-30 Flankers. During this Nov. 23 mission, the Russian aircraft did not broadcast “appropriate codes required by air traffic control” and did not file a flight plan.

Later in the video, another two Russian Navy Su-30s are intercepted on Dec. 13 because they again did not file a flight plan or broadcast the appropriate codes.

The intercepts were a “routine thing” and all were professional, Blake said.

NATO countries rotate responsibility for the air policing mission, with the Lakenheath jets taking over for Polish F-16s in August. The mission first began in 2004.