On December 20 Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Charles Q. Brown Jr. met with Chief of Defence Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys and Commander of the Air Force Col Antanas Matutis and reiterated the ironclad U.S. commitment to Lithuania’s security during his visit to Lithuania.
The bilateral meeting addressed air defence operations and capability planning of the United States, Lithuania’s strategic ally, and Baltic Sea region defence building on the call for a stronger NATO space defence, particularly in the eastern flank, made at the NATO Summit in Madrid
“The lessons taught by the ongoing war in Ukraine demonstrate clearly the importance of a robust air defence against air threats for military units, over strategic national infrastructure. In terms of synergy between all military domains – land, air, sea and cyber – the U.S. contribution on the map of our region is obvious and deterrence is in effect,” underscored Chief of Defence Lt Gen V. Rupšys at the joint press conference.
Gen Charles Q. Brown Jr. has been in charge of the U.S. Air Force since June 2020, he supports modernization of the air forces since the threats and response to threats of today may be irrelevant for the challenges of the future. Based on the contracts between Lithuania and the U.S. Government, Lithuanian Air Force equipment pool has been strengthened with the Avenger short-range air defence system and NASAMS mid-range air defence system. There are also concluded contracts on procurement of four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and eight procurement of 8 launchers with live and blank ammunition including different types and combat characteristic guided missile pods, for example, the ATACMS Army Tactical Missile Systems with the effective range of 300 km. Another contract to be signed shortly covers acquisition of Switchblade 600 drones. All the procured equipment is compatible with other Lithuanian Armed Forces’ technologies and therefore easy to integrate into the existing defence plans.
The close trans-Atlantic ties and U.S. leadership furthers the enhancement of the Lithuanian air defence through assistance in military acquisitions and integration of the acquired state-of-the-art equipment. The Lithuanian Ari Force collaborates with the Pennsylvania National Guard (PANG) in training air force officers and future UH-60 Black Hawk pilots, arranges air operations planning courses, liaison officer, air transportation courses and seminars. Firefighters of the Lithuanian Air Force Base annually attend a practical training exercise at the Ramstein Air Force Base, ad Hazmat exercise of identification and neutralization of hazardous materials with the U.S. Air Force (in the U.S.) for the Fire and Rescue Unit. In 2018 the PANG Red Horses Engineer Unit installed a. air-to-ground firing range at Kazlų Rūda Training Area for JTAC training and there are plans to also install a helipad and a training facility with PANG help at Pagudonė.
Photo credits: Sgt SPc 1st Class Ieva Budzeikaitė | Lithuanian Armed Forces