Watch as US Air Force F-15 Eagles from RAF Lakenheath intercept Russian jets above the Baltic region
PUBLISHED: 13:31 09 January 2018 | UPDATED: 13:43 09 January 2018
These are moments fighter jets from RAF Lakenheath intercepted Russian jets on two separate occasions while deployed to help protect the sovereign skies above the Baltic region.
For four months the US Air Forces’ 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS), belonging to the 48th Fighter Squadron based at the Suffolk base, has been part of the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission.
During their time at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, the 493rd EFS F-15C Eagles partnered with Belgian air force F-16s were scrambled in the Baltics almost 60 times.
Approximately 30 of those interceptions were conducted by the 493rd EFS specifically.
These include the two instances seen in the footage - on November 23 and December 13 2017 - where the F-15Cs intercepted two Russian Navy SU-30 Flankers in international airspace near the Baltics.
The intercept was initiated because the Russian aircraft “did not broadcast the appropriate codes required by air traffic control and had no flight plan on file”.
Lt Col Cody Blake, 493rd Fighter Squadron commander, said: “Intercepts are a normal part of the BAP mission. They don’t necessarily happen on a day-to-day basis but it is a routine thing but they are always conducted in a safe and professional manner.”
He added: “The ability to intercept aircraft is important to NATO. Really it goes back to the overall objective for the BAP mission. And really that objective is to ensure the sovereignty of the airspace for the Baltic countries.”
The four F-15s dedicated to the BAP mission completed a total of around 3,000 alert hours, more than 170 sorties and 300 flying hours.
Unassociated with the policing mission, additional jets were deployed in an effort to maintain unit training.
In total, the 493rd EFS completed more than 560 flight hours and 270 training sorties.
Command will be given from the US Air Force to Denmark today (January 9).
NATO’s Air Policing mission has been executed continuously since April 2004 in the Baltic States.