France deploys four fighter jets to Estonia

Four Mirage 2000-5F multirole fighter jets, belonging to the French Air and Space Force, arrived at Ämari Air Base on 13 March.

The jets will join the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission and they will be based at the Estonian base until 1 August.

Because of the Russian invasion against Ukraine, the French fighter jets’ arrival in Estonia was pushed forward by 15 days.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania do not have an airborne air defence capability of their own. Therefore, the protection is provided by NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission whereby more powerful allies deploy their jets to Baltic states in intervals usually lasting half a year.

Since the mission’s establishment in 2004, Belgium, Denmark, the UK, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, the US, Poland, Turkey, Spain, France, Romania, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Canada, Italy and Hungary have deployed their aircraft to either Estonia’s Ämari or Lithuania’s Šiauliai air bases.

The French jets will replace four Belgian Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcons that have been deployed to Ämari since early December last year.

A French Mirage 2000-5F at Ämari Air Base in Estonia on 13 March 2022. Photo by the Estonian Defence Forces.

Because of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, both the US and the UK have also deployed additional aircraft to Ämari. Six US Air Force’s F-15s arrived in January and two F-35s in February, and the UK deployed two F-35s in March.

The Mirage 2000 is a French multirole, single-engine, fourth-generation jet fighter manufactured by Dassault Aviation. It was introduced in 1984 and over 600 aircraft were manufactured until 2007.

Read also: Live updates: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – reactions in Estonia.

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