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‘Grim Reapers’ reveal Baltic intercepts

Photo: A 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-15C on alert scramble at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, on September 4, 2017. USAF/TSgt Matthew Plew


The US Air Force has released details of the recent NATO Baltic Air Policing (BAP) deployment by F-15C/D Eagles of the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) ‘Grim Reapers’ from RAF Lakenheath, UK. The USAF will complete its fifth rotation as the lead nation for BAP on January 8, as the role at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, passes to the Royal Danish Air Force.

Leading the 45th rotation of the policing mission, the 493rd EFS partnered with Belgian Air Force F-16AMs for the latest four-month deployment, during which time the NATO jets were scrambled ‘almost 60 times’, according to a news release. The 493rd EFS specifically, conducted approximately 30 intercepts over the course of the deployment. The four F-15C/Ds dedicated to the BAP mission completed a total of roughly 3,000 alert hours, over 170 sorties and 300 flying hours dedicated to BAP, as well as associated training missions.

BAP detachment commander for the 493rd EFS, Lt Col Clint Guenther said: ‘From the time of notification that we get that scramble order to time we are airborne is within 15 minutes (RS15). In the first 24 hours we scrambled twice.’

A pilot from the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, on August 31, 2017. USAF/ TSgt Matthew Plew

The video below depicts footage from a training event in 2014, coupled with (from 01:39) footage from the latest deployment of a pair of Eagles intercepting two Russian Navy Su-30SM ‘Flankers’ in international airspace on November 23, 2017. A news release states: ‘The intercept was initiated because the Russian aircraft did not broadcast the appropriate codes required by air traffic control and had no flight plan on file.’


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