Royal Air Force Typhoons and Spanish EF-18 Hornet aircraft have taken part in a fly past over the Lithuania capital Vilnius as part of the National Statehood Day.
The Typhoons together with Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornets are both currently based in Lithuania conducting the NATO Air Policing Mission, flew over the Presidential Palace in a diamond formation as the culmination of President Gitanas Naus?da’s speech and as the National Flag was raised.
As part of his speech the President said: “Together with partners from the European Union and NATO, we are working to create a space of democracy, stability and welfare in the changing world."
Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt the commander of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing said:
“It was a great honour to be invited to take part in the Lithuanian Statehood Day celebrations and meet some of the people of Vilnius who took real interest in our deployment and the NATO Air Policing Mission.
“It was also satisfying to see RAF Typhoons lead a mixed formation of Spanish EF-18s in an impressive flypast, which demonstrates how closely we’re working with our NATO partners.”
The flypast is the latest in a series of public engagement activities that 135 EAW are now able to conduct, following the relaxation of the Lithuanian COVID-19 restrictions. The first event saw the Commanders of the RAF and Spanish Air Force detachments at Siauliai Air Base accepting an invitation from the local Mayor to join him in a working lunch.
Wing Commander Gwinnutt and Lieutenant Colonel Jesus Gutierrez Gallego, the Commander of the Spanish Air Force detachment, were also joined by the Commander of the NATO Integration Unit in Lithuania, Colonel Jakob Larsen from Denmark.
This meeting had been delayed by COVID-19 restrictions but following their easing, it could now go ahead. The meeting allowed initial introductions and also meant that the NATO officers were briefed on how their presence in Siauliai is seen and felt by the Municipality.
Art?ras Visockas the Mayor of Šiauliai said: “The world is constantly changing, and we must adapt to it. However, I hope that one thing will remain unchanged - our commitment to help each other in the face of difficulties and challenges”.
135 EAW has also hosted a group of Lithuanian academics from number of Universities, who were shown round a Typhoon fighter and briefed on the EAW’s NATO Mission.
Explaining the importance of such events Wing Commander Gwinnutt said: “These events give us the opportunity to explain what NATO is doing in Lithuania and why. It is a key part of our mission to support the Lithuanian Government by explaining NATO’s role here.”