F-15s intercept Russian fighters near Baltics

In a video released Jan. 5 by U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, F-15s from RAF Lakenheath intercept Russian Su-30 fighters near the Baltics as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission.

The Air Force on Friday released a video showing two recent instances in which F-15s deployed to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, intercepted Russian Navy Su-30 Flankers near the Baltics.

The video compilation shows one encounter on Nov. 23 and another on Dec. 13. According to descriptions posted by the military, both incidents involved two Russian fighters in international airspace near the Baltics. In both encounters, the F-15s were scrambled because the Russians did not broadcast the codes required by air traffic control, and did not file a flight plan, the Air Force said.

The F-15s were from the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which belongs to the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, and were participating in the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa said. Those airmen and fighters were deployed to the Lithuanian base for about four months.

The Air Force is scheduled to finish its fifth rotation as the lead for the Baltic mission Jan. 8, USAFE said.

“Intercepts are a regular occurrence, and U.S. Air Force pilots routinely conduct them in a safe and professional manner,” the Air Force said. “Pilots from the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron executed the intercept professionally and operated in international airspace in accordance with all relevant international flight regulations and safety standards.”

The video begins with archival 2014 footage showing F-15 pilots scrambling during an exercise at the Lithuanian base. It concludes with excerpts from an interview with Lt. Col. Cody Blake, commander of the 493rd.