Air Force ‘weak link in Lithuanian defence’

L-39 of the Lithuanian air force
DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

While Lithuania is raising spending to strengthen its land forces, air forces have to do with the L-39 aircraft which are unsuitable for a serious combat and can only simulate air battles with slow and low-flying targets, experts say.

Lithuania leases L-39 aircraft from a Russian-capital company in Latvia for training and maintaining pilot licenses.

“All types of military forces have to interact and help each other. It is not enough for aircraft pilots just to practice and to take care of their qualifications. Infantry needs support from the air,” said reserve Colonel Zenonas Vegelevičius.

Eugenijus Vosylius, a member of Colonels Association and a former head of General Jonas Žemaitis Lithuanian Military Academy, says that not only are L-39s not adapted far air battles, but also the NATO air policing fighter jets have no authorization to attack, shoot down violators of the Baltic air. All they can do is use radio signals to warn intruders and escort them to the international air space.

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