German Air Force is getting ready to take over the air policing duties at the Estonian Ämari base, within the framework of the expanded Baltic Air Policing operation.
The operations are going to be conducted by five Eurofighter jets, coming from the 31st Luftwaffe’s Tactical Squadron. The aircraft will be in service from September until the end of the year, and the operation is going to involve 160 German soldiers in total.
Preparations have been started to deploy the German aircraft to Estonia. Luftwaffe is going to maintain its presence at the Ämari base for the second time – earlier on the German fighters were stationed there back in 2014. Despite the reports suggesting that Germany would deploy the unarmed aircraft in Estonia, the fighters stationed there are going to be equipped with the IRIS-T short range missiles.
The German fighters deployment is a part of the Baltic Air Policing operation. Starting from May 2014, in the light of the Ukrainian crisis, the consecutive rotations were realized by air forces of four countries, with the fighter components deployed in Estonia, Poland, and Lithuania (in case of the latter location the deployment was reinforced, air components from two states were operating from the Lithuanian Šiauliai AB).
At the beginning of August, NATO decided to limit the scope of reinforcement of the Baltic Air Policing operation. Currently, the initiative is going to be realized by a “standard” single deployment in Lithuania (as it has been happening since 2004), supported by another detachment, operating from Estonia.
NATO limited its presence in the Baltic states, which – in the eyes of most of the opinion-makers – may be interpreted as a bad signal for Moscow, particularly with a reference to the European states which constitute the core of the Baltic Air Policing operation. On the other hand, the Americans are going to deploy an A-10 detachment in Ämari, for the second time this year. This deployment is going to be temporary, as the Thunderbolts are permanently stationed in the US.
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