493rd EFS patrols Baltic airspace

ŠIAULIAI AIR BASE, Lithuania -- Days after the United States Air Force took the lead of NATO Baltic Air Policing, the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron geared up to fly the first sortie of the fifth U.S. rotation at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, Aug. 31.

Air policing is a standing NATO peacetime task designed to preserve the integrity of allies' sovereign airspace, while enhancing professional relationships and improving coordination between NATO allies and partners during times of crisis.

“We're [NATO] on the forty-fifth rotation of air policing events in this region, a staple of peace and security,” said U.S. Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, NATO Allied Air Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, earlier this week.

The U.S. presence for the current Baltic Air Policing mission comes at the request of its Baltic allies and further demonstrates its commitment to the security of fellow NATO nations. In recognition of the fact that no single nation can confront today’s challenges alone, the need for allies and partners to work together to meet future security challenges is paramount.

The 493rd EFS will conduct routine patrols in the Baltic region for the next 120 days, maintaining a constant vigil over the sovereign airspace of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.