The reinforced air security mission, also known as NATO Baltic Air Policing, continues with US F-15E fighter jets stationed in in Ämari, Estonia.
Press Release, Tallinn, 02 February 2022: [auto-translated] As of Wednesday last week, six F-15E Strike Eagle fighters of the United States Air Force will be stationed at Ämari air base. The main goal of the fighters in Estonia is to support the Baltic Air Security Mission with the F-16 fighter jets of the Belgian Air Force, whose rotation began in December last year.
In addition, Danish F-16 fighter jets arrived at the Lithuanian Šiauliai air base last week, performing the same tasks as the Polish F-16 fighter jets there. In the course of the reinforced air security mission, air-to-air and air-to-ground training procedures will be practised with the Allies across the Baltics.
“Our presence here demonstrates NATO’s commitment to NATO’s security, safety and independence as part of NATO. This is the biggest goal of our mission and to ensure enhanced air security with Belgium’s allies, as well as the opportunity to practice integration between Belgian, Estonian and US units. We have had very good experiences with Ämari air base and the Estonians have been very hospitable and our mission has gone great, “said Lieutenant Colonel Taylor Gifford, Commander of the United States Unit in Ämari.
“I am proud to lead this resilient unit, which is fully committed to the integrity of the Alliance’s airspace,” said Major Avi Pierre-Yves Libert, Commander of the Belgian Air Security Unit.
“The presence of Americans is important not only for Estonia, but also for the Alliance as a whole. This shows that NATO takes the current situation very seriously, “said Brigadier General Rauno Sirk, Commander of the Air Force.
The F-15E fighters in Ämari are part of the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base of the 336th Squadron of the Fourth Fighter Group, but have been permanently sent to the 48th Fighter Group at the Lakenheath Air Force Base in the UK.
NATO members allocate certain parts of their airspace to air force exercises and drills, including low-flying operations. The governments of the Baltic states have also set aside areas in their airspace for low-cost flights. Low-cost flights are performed in agreement with the Civil Aviation Service and the Air Traffic Services Limited Liability Company.
According to the decision of the North Atlantic Council, the air forces of NATO member states have been guarding the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 29 March 2004, when the Baltic States became members of NATO. As part of the 2012 Chicago Summit, the North Atlantic Council extended the Baltic Air Security Mission indefinitely.
A Russian Federation SU27 plane violated the Estonian air border on Saturday.
Press Release, Tallinn, 31 January 2022: [auto-translated] On Saturday morning, a Russian Air Force SU27 plane entered Estonian airspace in the Vaindloo Island area without permission. The plane was in Estonian airspace for less than a minute.
The plane did not have a flight plan, the plane’s transponder was turned off. The aircraft also did not have two-way radio communication with the Estonian air traffic service.
Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian Chargé d’Affaires in Estonia and handed over a note. This was the first violation of the Estonian air border this year. Last year, planes of the Russian Federation violated the Estonian air border five times.