Rich Cooper took this impressive photo of two American F-15s flying over the Baltic. With diplomatic tensions reaching a fevered pitch and Russian military actions becoming more aggressive, NATO is increasing its presence in the Baltic, Poland and other member nations bordering with Russia.
See, the job of defending the airspace of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia -- also known as NATO's Baltic Air Policing task -- falls to a rotating fleet of international aircraft. Just yesterday, a team of American F-15s operating out of Royal Air Force (RAF) Station Lakenheath, United Kingdom finished its rotation and handed over command of the skies to the combined British and Polish militaries.
According to the Lithuanian Armed Forces,
NATO took the responsibility for the security of the Baltic airspace in March 2004 when Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia became NATO members. NATO allies deploy their air personnel and assets to conduct the Baltic Air Policing mission from the Lithuanian Air Force Air Base in Šiauliai on a rotational basis to fill in the Baltic States' shortage of relevant aircraft for independent protection of national airspace.
And with Russian aircraft routinely attempting to violate its neighbours' airspace, it looks like NATO forces now will be busier than ever.