A U.S. F-15C Eagle prepares for takeoff during a Lithuanian - NATO exercise at Siauliai airbase, Lithuania, on April 1. (The Associated Press)
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LOCATION: The base is in north-central Lithuania, not far from the border with Latvia and about 100 miles east of the Baltic Sea.
MISSION: Once one of the largest airfields used by the Soviet Air Force, the base is now the primary flightline for the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, which provides constant, 24-hour surveillance and control of the airspace over three of NATO’s newest members that do not have homegrown tactical air capabilities: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The four U.S. Air Force F-15s here were reinforced in March after the Russian invasion of Crimea. EUCOM commanders sent six more F-15 aircraft and aircrews. NATO has targeted Siauliai as a future outpost for strategic use by the alliance, spending millions of dollars to improve infrastructure.
LIFESTYLE: The main thing to know: it’s cold. Siauliai is on the same latitude as Moscow or fairly deep Canada. The city of Siauliai is unremarkable other than its dense display of stolid Soviet-era architecture.