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U.S. Air Force Pilots Patrolling Baltic Airspace

The U.S. Air Force has stared patrolling the skies over NATO allies the Baltic states.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas said on January 3 a group of U.S. Air Force pilots arrived in Lithuania to take over duty from a contingent of the Belgian Air Force.

The U.S. pilots will fly F-15 warplanes as part of a NATO cooperation program, as the Baltic states do not have military equipment to perform the flights themselves.

Olekas said Italy and Hungary had also joined the mission with the U.S. pilots.

The U.S. pilots will be based in Lithuania for the next four months.

NATO countries have been patrolling Baltic airspace since 2004, shortly after the Baltic states joined the alliance.

U.S. pilots have carried out three previous rotations in the Baltic states.

Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS and Interfax