"“We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” "

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao 12th March 2009

""We have a financial system that is run by private shareholders, managed by private institutions, and we'd like to do our best to preserve that system."

Timothy Geithner US Secretary of the Treasury, previously President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.1/3/2009

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The NATO umbrella that protects the Baltic States

Remarkable what happens in the sky over what we now have learned to call Europe. Air Force Link today tells us of the exploits of the brave Top Guns of the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron who are, says Capt. Andrew Carlson, a 493rd EFS pilot in a , " high standard of readiness and a constant vigil, ready to police the sovereign airspace of the Baltic nations at a moment's notice. "

To perform this NATO air defense mission,(started in 2004) the aircrews expect to be airborne within minutes after lights and sirens indicates an imminent threat; leaving the pilots and maintainers of the 493rd EFS little room for error.

Maintainers and aircrew are on 24-hour standby, awaiting an alert. Once the signal is given, separate crews, consisting of a pilot and three crew chiefs, sprint out to the jets and prepare to launch. The F-15 Eagles are normally in the air within five to 10 minutes. The 493rd deployed F-15s and 130 Airmen on October 2nd 2008.

At the time Lt. Col. Michael King, 493d Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander said, "The United States is committed to the air sovereignty of its NATO allies and to ensuring the regional peace and stability for these countries. The 493d EFS is ready to do our part in demonstrating U.S. Air Forces in Europe's continued resolve to provide air defense for the Baltic region."

If weather permits, practice is undertaken daily, allowing them to sharpen their quick response skills.

During these exercises, they practice mock scrambles and one-on-one intercepts. They learn tactics and communication tools to intercept any bogey (sic) , whether a friendly aircraft or a hijacked commercial plane, in the airspace over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Several nations have taken over the duties since 2004.

NATO Air Force Q.R.A. detachments to Šiauliai (Zokniai) aerodrome -Lithuania. Map

30 March 2004 Belgium, Belgian Air Component F-16FA/M Fighting Falcon

1 July 2004 Denmark, Royal Danich Air Force F-16A/M Fighting Falcon

30 October 2004 United Kingdom, Royal Air Force Panavia Tornado F.3

1 January 2005 Norway, Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16A/M Fighting Falcon

30 March 2005 Netherlands, Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16A/M Fighting Falcon

30 June 2005 Germany, Luftwaffe F-4F Phantom 11

12 October 2005 United States Air Force F-16C/J Fighting Falcon

1 January 2006 Poland, Polish Air Force Mig-29A

31 March 2006 Turkey, Turkish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon

1 August 2006 Spain, Spanish Air Force Mirage F.1M

1 December 2006 Belgium, Belgian Air Component F-16A/M Fighting Falcon

1 April 2007 France, French Air Force Mirage 2000

1 August 2007 Romania, Romanian Air Force Mig-21 Lancer 'C'

1 November 2007 Portugal, Portugese Air Force F-16A/M Fighting Falcon

16 December 2007 Norway, Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16A/M Fighting Falcon

15 March 2008 Poland, Polish Air Force Mig-29A

30 June 2008 Germany, Luftwaffe F-4F Phantom 11

30 September 2008 United States Air Force F-15 Eagle

The German contingent were much embarassed when on September 19th 2005 a Russian Su-27 fighter aircraft that crashed in Lithuania. What began as a curious -- but by all accounts accidental -- air mishap has rapidly spiraled into a heated diplomatic imbroglio between Lithuania and Russia. A Russian Su-27 Flanker pilot en route from Russia proper to the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad reportedly experienced a navigational malfunction and became disoriented. The pilot expended his fuel and ejected safely, leaving the plane's remains smoldering outside the village of Veliouna, 35 miles northwest of the city of Kaunas. Local authorities detained the pilot while Vilnius investigates the incident.

The Su-27 Flanker is a high-performance long-range aircraft equipped with powerful avionics and engines. It has a maximum range of 2,312 miles -- more than enough to get from Russia's Northern Military District to Kaliningrad.

Initial Lithuanian reports suggested that the aircraft's navigational equipment failed, causing the pilot to burn off fuel while trying to get his bearings.

If the plane had full fuel tanks when it left its base in Russia, however, the pilot would have had to have been lost for quite a while to burn off the Flanker's huge fuel reserve. It is possible, if the ferry flight occurred over the Baltic, that the pilot misjudged his left turn, thinking he was flying into Kaliningrad instead of Lithuania. More

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