The German Air Force Eurofighter detachment has taken over the augmenting role of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission at Ämari Air Base in Estonia, protecting the region against Russian aircraft.
Germany took over the role from the French Air Force Mirage 2000-5 detachment on 31 August.
The Baltic Air Policing mission was established in 2004, to assist Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania who have no airborne air defence capability of their own and was extended indefinitely in February 2012. The aim of the mission is to prevent unauthorised incursion into the airspace of the Baltic states and its most frequent duty is intercepting Russian aircraft and escorting them from the area. To the west of the Baltic states’ airspace is an air corridor often used by aircraft travelling to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad from territorial Russia.
“Collectively we remain vigilant and operational with allies like France, Germany and Estonia and all other members of the alliance,” Lieutenant General Klaus Habersetzer, the commander of Uedem, Germany-based NATO Combined Air Operations Centre, said in a statement. “And we will continue to ensure peace and security for our people.”
Flying out of Estonia, the German Air Force will conduct the Baltic Air Policing mission for the entire region until 8 September, when the Italian Air Force will take up its leading role in Lithuania. “I assure you that we keep the airspace over our Baltic allies safe and at the same time demonstrate NATO’s continuous commitment to deterrence and defence in the region,” Habersetzer added.
Germany is scheduled to remain stationed at Ämari until the end of April 2021. This is the third time for a German Eurofighter detachment to conduct an eight-month deployment.
The Eurofighter Typhoon multi-role fighter jet, introduced in 2003, was jointly developed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain. The jet has been widely described as “a highly agile” aircraft, designed to be a supremely effective dog-fighter in combat.
The Typhoon had its combat debut during the 2011 military intervention in Libya with the UK’s Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force, performing aerial reconnaissance and ground-strike missions. The fighter’s largest operator is the Royal Air Force, followed by the German Air Force and the Italian Air Force.
Cover: A pair of Eurofighters of the German Air Force. Photo by the German Air Force.