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VILNIUS, April 01. /ITAR-TASS/. Two-day manoeuvres of the NATO Air Force with the participation of warplanes of Lithuania, the United States, Germany, as well as NATO partner - Sweden, have begun in Lithuania on Tuesday.
The Lithuanian Defence Ministry reported that the manoeuvres would focus on drilling search and rescue operations, as well as interaction of the Air Force with civil aviation. The manoeuvres will be held at the military airfield of the Zokniai air base, as well as at Vilnius International Airport and at Palanga International Airport.
“The NATO Air Force manoeuvres demonstrate the alliance’s solidarity and readiness to fulfil the allied commitments. They give an opportunity to Lithuanian military to improve their skills and interaction with the allies,” Lithuanian Defence Minister Juozas Olekas said.
The manoeuvres involve the American fighters F-15C Eagle and a KC-135 tanker aircraft, deployed at Lithuania’s Zokniai air base from where NATO partners, rotating every four months, patrol the sky over the Baltic countries. Germany sends to the manoeuvres an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane, Lithuania - the C-27J Spartan transport plane of its Air Force and a Mil Mi-8 helicopter. Sweden sent to the manoeuvres the Gripen fighters.
According to the exercise scenario, ground forces lose contact with the transport Spartan place that is above the Baltic Sea. Sweden’s Gripen fighters take off after that. Finland is requested to permit entry in its airspace to a plane that lost communication, and for its further leading the American F-15C Eagle aircraft take off from the Zokniai air base to replace the Swedish fighters.
The manoeuvres are held under the leadership of the NATO Allied Air Command, located at the Ramstein air base and at the Combined Air Operations Centre at the Uedem air base. Such manoeuvres are held three times a year.