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On 14 September 2017 the U.S. Air Force officers, who started the air policing mission in Lithuania on the 1st of September, were familiarised with Lithuania’s rescue capacity in the event of an aircraft accident or emergency.
On that day representatives of Oro navigacija’s Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) visited the LAF Air Base in Šiauliai. Chief of ARCC Vytautas Vaižmužis, and his Deputy Arūnas Repšys presented the activities of the centre, and reported on Lithuania’s rescue capacity in the event of a fighter in distress.
At a meeting with representatives of the Baltic States’ international airports and rescue services, the actions foreseen and to be taken in case of a fighter’s forced landing in international airports of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were also considered. Potential non-standard situations, which may occur during the air policing mission, were discussed as well.
ARCC operates round-the-clock and is involved in organisation of search and rescue operations in case of an aircraft in distress in the territory of the Lithuanian Republic and its territorial waters. The centre receives signals from aircraft or ships in distress or involved in accident, the Vilnius Area Control Centre, the Coordination Centre in Norway as well as from other legal and natural persons. In case of an accident, according to a predetermined scheme, the centre shall inform other search and rescue services operating in Lithuania on the accident taken place and shall organise rescue operations.
In conformity with the interstate agreements on search and rescue, the neighbouring states have commissioned themselves to assist one another. In the event of an accident on the borderline section, the coordination centres of respective states mobilise their forces of search and rescue operations.
In recent years the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic States has been performed from Lithuania by four fighters of the allies. The U.S. has delivered 7 fighters. Two weeks in advance of the Russian and Belarusan military exercise Zapad 2017, the mission was strengthened.
It is already for the fifth time that the U.S. AF officers participate in the NATO air policing mission. Involved in the mission are seven fighters F-15C Eagle and about 140 officers from the 48th Fighter Wing, Lakenheath, the U.S. Air Force-operated base in the United Kingdom.
The Polish AF officers, who ended the airspace defence mission, had been conducting it with four fighters F-16 Fighting Falcon.
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