The US military has stationed Patriot anti-aircraft missiles in Lithuania for military exercises for the first time.
The weapons system was stationed in the small Baltic nation and NATO member for the Tobruq Legacy 2017 air defence military exercises, which will run July 11-22.
Patriot missiles repel aircraft and rocket attacks, the Defence Ministry in Vilnius announced Monday.
"The deployment demonstrates the steadfast US commitment to the security of Lithuania and its high readiness to send strategic capabilities to the region," the Defence Ministry said in a statement.
Lithuania, a former Soviet republic that today borders the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, had asked for assistance on air defence in the wake of Moscow's annexation of Crimea and increasing concerns over its own security.
Lithuania's Armed Forces currently only have short-range aircraft defense systems but the decision has been made to purchase Norwegian medium-range systems NASAMS.
The three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have expressed concern about their air defense weakness in the face of Russian air superiority. The baltic states possess only short-range anti-aircraft missiles, leaving the skies largely unprotected.
Poland, a member of the NATO military alliance, announced last week that Washington had agreed to sell it eight Patriot missile systems, a deal worth up to $7.6 billion. The Patriot is a surface-to-air missile system manufactured by the US defense contractor Raytheon.