NATO will temporarily deploy two Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) electronic reconnaissance aircraft in Lithuania's Šiauliai, according to the official statement of the North Atlantic Alliance.
The first of two AWACS long-range reconnaissance aircraft will arrive at the new deployment site today (September 28) to "fly missions to monitor Russian military activity near the Alliance’s borders." About 150 military personnel will also be sent to Šiauliai for its maintenance.
"Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has increased our focus on the security environment in the Baltic Sea region," acting NATO spokesman Dylan White stated.
Airborne AWACS systems are capable of detecting aircraft and missiles hundreds of kilometers away, making them a key early warning tool for NATO.
The Alliance says it has beefed up its air presence on its eastern flank with fighter jets, surveillance planes and tankers, and after Russian drone strikes reached Allies' territories, the United States last week sent four more F-16 fighter jets to Romania to step up air patrols.
In the coming days, NATO AWACS aircraft are planning to start a new program of reconnaissance flights over the territory of the Alliance.
In August 2016, NATO moved AWACS aircraft from the Baltic Sea region to the Middle East to fight ISIS terrorists.