NATO ups Baltic air patrols amid regional concern

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VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuania says six U.S. fighter jets and two tanker planes have arrived in Lithuania following a U.S. decision to increase NATO's air policing mission of the three Baltic states.

The Defense Ministry in Vilnius said Thursday that the F-15C Eagles were deployed from the RAF Lakenheath air base in Britain, and will join four other fighters in patrolling the air space of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Wednesday that the United States was stepping up the defense of its allies in Europe in response to Russia's military move into Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

NATO's Baltic air patrols are carried out from the northwestern base of Zokniai in Lithuania.

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