A bright spot is approaching in the distance somewhere in the middle of Latvia.
It is around midnight and dark, but the special forces plane is about to attempt a landing in the dark on a two-lane civilian road.
Equipped with night vision goggles, pilots and ground staff are able to coordinate and successfully land the aircraft.
This is part of the medical training that US and NATO special forces undergo in the Baltic region, implementing practices they have learned from the conflict in Ukraine.
The main lesson they learned was that air superiority may be a thing of the past and aerial evacuations using fast helicopters might not be possible.
“Look at the battlefield now, look at Ukraine. What’s flying? Not very reliable,” a member of NATO’s special forces told CNN, provided he remains anonymous for reasons. “The assumption is, if the air is turned down, where will this patient go? How are we going to get him to the surgeon?”
This means transporting injured soldiers to hospitals could take longer and operations may have to be carried out on or near the front line.
“The spirit of what we’re doing is called extended casualty care, extended care in the field,” the special forces member explained. “And the concept is to identify the strategies that will help us prolong life in order to bridge that and get that patient to the surgeon.”
Some of the lessons of the war in Ukraine were also learned by observing how doctors operated on the battlefield, sometimes still under heavy fire.
“The Ukrainians have done a phenomenal job of claiming the battlefield and implementing some of these strategies, taking care of their patients along the way,” the special forces member said. “They don’t just throw a person in the back of a van and leave them unattended. You put someone with medical capacity in there with that patient as they’re being transferred – it’s that concept of care along the way.
As they watch events unfold nearby, they say now is exactly the right time to prepare for the war of the future.
“There’s a sense of urgency, and I think, looking at Ukraine right now, it’s very prescient,” the special forces member said.