The President of Lithuania has visited 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, currently serving at Siauliai Air Base conducting the NATO Air Policing Mission, to thank them for their activities.
President Naus?da was accompanied by Raimundas Karoblis, the Minister of National Defence, and Major General Gintautas Zenkevi?ius, Chief of Defence Staff.
The President and his party were first greeted by the base commander, Lieutenant Colonel Antanas Matutis of the Lithuanian Air Force, before being briefed on the NATO Air Operations by Lt Col Jesus Gutierrez Gallego, commanding the Spanish Air Force Detachment and Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, the RAF Detachment Commander.
Wg Cdr Gwinnutt also briefed the President on the ongoing British German interoperability exercise that is being currently conducted at Šiauliai, ahead of the German deployment to Estonia later this year.
“Lithuania appreciates very much what you are doing for us. We live so close to our neighbours and that creates a certain risk for us. The Baltic Air Policing Mission is a great example of NATO solidarity”
President of Lithuania
Wg Cdr Gwinnutt said: “It is a great honour to host the President today and very humbling that he has taken so much time to visit our operation here. He has been genuinely interested in our role, the aircraft and the morale of the personnel of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing. He asked how they were keeping in touch with family back home.”
During the visit, Wg Cdr Gwinnutt and Lt Col Beckmann, the German Air Force Detachment Commander, had the opportunity to show the President around the Typhoon and Eurofighter jets and explain further how the training together was working.
Lt Col Beckmann said: “This has been the highlight of the already extraordinary hospitality we have felt from the Lithuanian people during our short stay”. Commenting on the Anglo German training he added: “it really does bolster the importance of the German-UK Alliance in our upcoming NATO Mission in Estonia”.
135 EAW was formed around a detachment from RAF Lossiemouth based 6 Squadron RAF. The EAW is currently operating alongside the Spanish Air Force this summer in Siauliai and the French Air Force who are conducting the Baltic Air Policing Mission from Amari Air Base in Estonia. The Operation is a 24/7 commitment for all involved.