Two U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighter aircraft landed at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai on July 18 marking the jet’s first visit to the country.
The aircraft joined the F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft that arrived in Lithuania earlier to take part in the Operation Rapid Forge being held for first time in the region.
“I am happy and proud that soldiers of the Lithuanian Air Force are doing their part of the work in the exercise professionally. They have shown their ability to deconflict and assign airspace, control the most cutting-edge aircraft, carry out land-based air defence and to render Host Nation Support properly,” said Col. Dainius Guzas, Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force.
The F-35A carried out refueling at the Šiauliai Airbase from where the aircraft took off to train air-to-air battle in the Lithuanian airspace while receiving tactical air control from the Combined Control and Reporting Centre Karmėlava. Land-based air defence was ensured by the Air Defence Battalion of the Lithuanian Air Force.
On July 23 and July 25, the U.S. fighter aircraft are planned to conduct air support training in the Lithuanian airspace and destroy ground-based targets in Kazlų Rūda Training Area. Lithuanian and U.S. special forces’ and other services’ soldiers will direct air support strikes towards ground-based targets and ensure integration.
“Lithuania will commit almost half of its airspace at agreed hours during two days of training. Offering sufficient space provides appealing conditions for organising allied exercises and it will allows to use full potential of the cutting-edge aircraft while training in the specific conditions of the Baltic region. Deconfliction of airspace at agreed hours will not disrupt civilian aviation and will not prevent any scheduled flights”, said a Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence statement.