NATO, Sweden train over the Baltics to enhance interoperability among allies Published April 7, 2014 By Airman 1st Class Dana J. Butler 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs ŠIAULIAI AIR BASE, Lithuania (AFNS) -- The 17th Baltic Region Training Event, or BRTE XVII, took place here April 1 and 2 over the Baltic region, to sharpen the skills of aircrews and air controllers from the U.S., Lithuanian and Swedish air forces. BRTE XVII is designed to enhance interoperability between allied partners in NATO and its Partnership for Peace program. The two day training event consisted of the rehearsal of a communications loss situation, emergency landings and a combat search and rescue mission. "One of our missions here is to be able to respond to anyone who needs help," said Lt. Col. Lendy Renegar, 48th Air Expeditionary Group commander. "This exercise is going to have an airman in distress or someone who has lost their radio." According to Renegar, conducting International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, procedures with an Airman in distress is one of the more important missions the fighter squadron conducts. A Lithuanian air force C-27J Spartan flew in the training event simulating a civilian airliner that suffered communications loss and received assistance from U.S. and the Swedish fighter aircraft. Additionally, a Mi-8 helicopter from the Lithuanian air force assisted in a combat search and rescue mission. A full spectrum of aircraft participated in BRTE XVII, including the F-15C Eagles, JAS-39 Gripen fighters and a C-130 Hercules from the Swedish air force, as well as a NATO E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system, or AWACS. The U.S. Air Force flew two extra F-15C Eagles to Lithuania to participate in BRTE XVII. Ten F-15Cs are currently deployed to Šiauliai Air Base conducting a rotation of the Baltic Air Policing mission here. The U.S. began the rotation with four F-15Cs but bolstered the mission with six more at the request of NATO's Baltic members in early March, reinforcing America's commitment to its European partners. "This is an active-alert mission where we will respond to anything that might challenge the integrity of the air space and also provide assistance to any Airmen in distress," Renegar said. "This is a group that is forward, ready, now and as USAFE's only air superiority squadron we are certainly ready for this mission and we will answer to anything that is a factor in the air space."