US Air Force F-15 Eagles tested Estonian Air Base Ämaris today, 22 April 2014, ahead of the upcoming NATO Baltic Air Policing deployment from May 2014.
Two of the USAFE’s air-superiority fighters, a F-15C and a F-15D, from RAF Lakenheath deployed to Ämaris from Šiauliai in Lithuania, where ten of the F-15s are based until the end of this month. The Lithuanian Air Base was until now the sole location for the rotating NATO fighter coverage for its northeastern flank (the Baltic states).
But after the military pressure from Russia on Ukraine, NATO has gladly accepted Estonia’s offer to use its main air base as a secondary location. According to the Estonian Ministry of Defence the US is sending an army company (150 troops) to the Baltic country this month for training. Such US presence might even be permanent sources within to the government in the capital Tallinn say on 22 April.
Estonian Airbase Ämari has undergone upgrades the last couple of years to serve as a fighter base. With the Estonian Armed Forces having no such aircraft themselves, it was fully aimed at attracting NATO jets. From May 2014 four Royal Danish Air Force F-16s will be based at Ämaris for their four month rotation, while four Polish MiG-29s and four Royal Air Force Typhoons will fly from Šiauliai.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger