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NATO Deploys AWACS to Lithuania

A NATO AWACS aircraft in final approach [© NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force]

NATO will temporarily deploy Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance planes to Šiauliai air base in Lithuania.

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News Release, Brussels, 28September 2023: NATO will temporarily deploy Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance planes to Šiauliai, Lithuania. The first of two aircraft will arrive on Thursday (28 September 2023) and will fly missions to monitor Russian military activity near the Alliance’s borders.

One AWACS plane can detect aircraft and missiles hundreds of kilometres away, making them a key early warning capability for NATO. Archive picture courtesy NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force.

“Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has increased our focus on the security environment in the Baltic Sea region,” said acting NATO Spokesperson Dylan White. “Our AWACS can detect aircraft and missiles hundreds of kilometres away, making them a key early warning capability for NATO. I thank Lithuania for hosting the aircraft. This is an important contribution to our shared security.”

In response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, NATO has boosted its air presence in the eastern part of the Alliance using fighter jets, surveillance planes and tankers. In the wake of Russian drone strikes near NATO territory, the United States last week deployed four additional F-16 fighter aircraft to Romania to enhance NATO’s air policing mission. Since February 2022, NATO AWACS have conducted hundreds of flights over Eastern Europe to monitor Russian warplanes.

The AWACS will start their reconnaissance flights over Alliance territory in the coming days. The mission is scheduled to last several weeks. The aircraft belong to a fleet of 14 NATO-owned surveillance aircraft based in Geilenkirchen, Germany. Around 150 military personnel will deploy to Šiauliai in support of the aircraft.

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