The United States Air Force F-35 jets landed at Estonia’s Ämari Air Base on 6 July in support of NATO’s Air Shielding mission on the alliance’s eastern flank.
The F-35s were based in Spangdahlem, Germany, from where they joined other allied fighters from France and Belgium currently deployed at Ämari Air Base who are taking part in NATO’s Air Policing and conducting air patrols over the Baltic Sea region.
“This activity enhances the security of NATO airspace ensuring a robust and integrated shield for allied territory and contributing to the deterrence and defence of the Euro-Atlantic area,” NATO said in a statement.
“The F-35 is an incredibly capable and versatile aircraft. Operating alongside the other allied nations in the Baltics, they are maintaining the integrity of the European airspace and directly contributing to the NATO Air Shielding Mission,” Lieutenant General Pascal Delerce, the deputy commander of the Allied Air Command, said.
“In support of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence system, Air Shielding offers an agile solution, although currently focused on NATO’s eastern flank, it retains the flexibility to orientate towards any emerging threat,” he added.
The NATO Air Shielding mission integrates allied air and surface-based air and missile defence units into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence system under NATO command and control.
“It will provide a near seamless shield from the Baltic to the Black Sea, ensuring NATO allies are better able to safeguard and protect alliance territory, populations and forces from air and missile threat,” NATO said.