Six American fighter jets have arrived in Estonia at the Ämari Air Base to support the Baltic Air Policing Mission at a time when Russia is threatening Ukraine with an invasion.
The F-15 fighter jets are from the 48th Fighter Wing of the US Air Force. They arrived in Estonia from their permanent home base in the United Kingdom Lakenheath Air Force Base, according to the US European Command.
“Baltic and enhanced air policing are enduring NATO missions that deliver constant vigilance of allied airspace and contribute to the alliance’s collective defence posture,” Major General Jöerg Lebert, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Allied Air Command, said.
“The additional aircraft will work closely with the current detachments to increase our readiness, build crucial interoperability and underline the robust solidarity across the alliance.”
The arrival of jets comes as the US president Joe Biden is weighing whether to deploy thousands of troops to Eastern Europe to bolster a broader NATO effort to protect allied countries bordering Russia and Ukraine, Fox News reported.
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.
Since 1 December 2021, four Belgian Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcons are stationed at Ämari as part of the Baltic Air Policing Mission. Four Danish F-16AM Fighting Falcons are stationed at Šiauliai, Lithuania, since January 2022.
The newly-arrived US jets are in addition to the Belgian jets already stationed at Ämari.
Cover: US F-15 Strike Eagle fighter jets arrived at the Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Photo by the Estonian Defence Forces.