Lakenheath F-15s Take Over Baltic Mission

An expeditionary contingent of airmen and F-15s from the 493rd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, Britain, on Wednesday assumed responsibility for NATO’s Baltic air policing mission. For the next four months, about 125 USAF airmen will operate out of Lithuania AFB, Lithuania; their F-15s will protect the airspace of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. This contingent, known as the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron during the deployment, replaced a Polish air force unit. “The men and women of the 493rd EFS are proud to be here . . . protecting the skies over the Baltic states,” said Lt. Col. Skip Pribyl, 493rd EFS commander. He added, “This mission falls in line with what we do—establish air superiority.” This is the third time since 2004 that USAF has had the rotational Baltic defense mission, and the second time for the Lakenheath F-15s. (Lithuania report by TSgt. Chris Stagner)