VILNIUS - On Aug. 13, Lieutenant Colonel Vidmantas Raklevicius took over the command of the Air Base of the Lithuanian Air Force (LITHAF), accompanied by a deployment ceremony for the 4th Lithuanian-led Air Mentoring Team, which is in charge of training helicopter pilots and maintenance personnel in Afghanistan, reported ELTA. Lt. Col. Raklevicius will replace Lieutenant Colonel Virginijus Steponavicius, after two years in service as the Commander of the Air Base of the Lithuanian Air Force. Before the current posting the new Commander served as Deputy Military Representative for Air Defense of the Permanent Representation of the Republic of Lithuania to NATO and the EU. Lt. Col. Steponavicius will continue his service at the Ministry of National Defense.
Lt. Col. Raklevicius has been a member of the Lithuanian Air Force since 1992. He conducted independent flights in Cessna-172, An-2, L-29, L-39, MiG-21 and Su-22 aircraft. Lt. Col. Raklevicius is a graduate of Borisoglebsk Higher Military Aviation School of Pilots, he attended qualification improvement courses in the United States, Italy and Germany. Raklevicius has been presented with a range of decorations by the National Defense System for his merits.
The new rotation of the Lithuanian-led multinational Air Mentoring Team (AMT-4) deployed to Afghanistan includes 8 Lithuanian military and 1 representative of the Latvian Armed Forces. In Afghanistan AMT-4 will be joined by Belgian and Ukrainian military forces.
Just like former AMTs, AMT-4 will be stationed in Kandahar International Airport to continue the training of the Afghan National Army helicopter pilots and technical maintenance specialists, rendering instructions on planning air operations, organizing maintenance of aircraft technical conditions and repair work, and assisting in improving aircraft operation skills.
The Air Mentoring Team deployed to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) mission in Afghanistan is Lithuania’s contribution to the training of the Afghan National Security Forces. The Lithuanian-led Air Mentoring Team has been stationed in Kandahar International Airport since February 2011.