Tag Archives: Estonia

After bankrupcy: new “Estonian Airlines” on its way

If everything goes according to plan Estonia will get its new, national carrier. After EU rules killed Estonian Air in November 2015, published earlier on Airheadsfly.com, plans have been made to bring new glory to the Baltic republic’s aviation.

Star of the new fleet will be a Bombardier CRJ 900, planned to operate alongside smaller CRJ 700s in a fleet of four to six aircraft. The new airline will get its own brand name and livery, but in reality it will likely be flown by an existing company – or a new one to divide risks and play by the EU rules. Such construction is common not only in aviation, but even in Scandinavian public transport systems like the one of Stockholm. The name of the new airline is not known yet, but Nordic Aviation or Estonian Regional Jet are two circulating in Scandinavian and Baltic media.

Adria Airways

After Estonia Air filed for bankrupcy Adria Airways jumped in to provide Estonia with its necessary air traffic connections with the outside world, while Air Baltic has been trying to scoop up some of the passengers. According to sources in Tallinn, the new “Estonian Airlines” is planned to be up and running by year’s end at the latest.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A CRJ 900 of Adria Airways, the same type will be the flagship of the new “Estonian Airlines” (Image © Bombardier)

Raptors get close during Estonia visit

Two out of four US Air Force F-22 Raptors currently deployed to Europe, went very much near Russia during a visit to Estonia on Friday 4 September. The aircraft arrived under escort by two A-10C Thunderbolts currently also deployed to the Baltics. More pics are here.

The two Lockheed Martin F-22s arrived at Ämari airbase in the morning and flew back to Spangdahlem in Germany later in the day. On Monday, two Raptors paid a similar quick visit to Łask airbase in Poland.

The advanced stealth fighters arrived in Germany on 28 August, flying directly from their homebase in Tyndall, Florida. They are expected to leave Europe again mid-September. In other US military movements, eight US Air National Guard F-16s are due to arrive on Friday in Poland for exercises.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Final approach for this F-22 Raptor.  (Image © Elmer van Hest)

NATO’s Baltic Air Policing down to eight aircraft

NATO is cutting down on its Baltic Air Policing involvement. The detachment of four Belgian Air Component F-16s at Malbork Airbase in Poland has already left, leaving the air defence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the hands of only twelve and soon only eight fighters on two in stead of three different airbases.

The diminishing of the air combat force has been acknowledged by the ministries of defence in the Baltic republics.

As of September the Hungarian Air Force will base four of its 12 operational SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen jets on Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania, while the German Air Force will fly four of its Eurofighter EF2000s (Typhoon) from Ämari Air Base in Estonia.

Until a week ago NATO had sixteen fighter jets committed to its Baltic flank, with the Belgian detachment in Poland and Italian Air Force and Royal Air Force EF2000 Typhoons being lead by the Royal Norwegian Air Force with four Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons.

Luftwaffe dual-seat Eurofighter EF2000(T) with serial 30+31 touch-and-go at Fliegerhorst Wittmundhafen Niedersachsen, Germany. (Image © Marcel Burger)
A Luftwaffe dual-seat Eurofighter EF2000(T) (Image © Marcel Burger)

The move to cut the force by 50 percent is controversial and has probably a cost-saving background, as Russian military air activity in the region stays at a decade high. However, Poland retains one of its own MiG-29 Fulcrum air defence fighter units at Malbork, so some back-up is available. NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania don’t have any fighter jets of their own.

The deployment in Lithuania puts an extra strain on the Hungarian Air Force, which had two Gripen crashes lately likely because of mistakes might by their crews. (Check our newstream!)

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A Hungarian Air Force (Magyar Légierő) SAAB JAS 39D Gripen taking off during the 2014 NATO Tiger Meet. (Image © Marcel Burger)

RAF Typhoons meet a flock of Russians

Four Su-34 Fullbacks, four MiG-31 Foxhounds and two An-26 Curls. That’s was the score in a single Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) last week for Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoons participating in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission over the Baltics. The Typhoons operated from Estonia to where they are deployed from homebase of RAF Lossiemouth in the UK.

The Typhoons met the Russian armada in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. The Russian aircraft appeared to be carrying out a variety of routine training missions, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. Since May, the Typhoons carried out 18 live intercepts of Russian aircraft, but never before did they encounter such a large formation of Russian airplanes.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): As seen from an RAF Typhoon. (Image © UK Ministry of Defence)

War games as usual over the Baltic Sea

While NATO, Sweden and Finland are jointly engaged in large scale military exercises on the Baltic Sea coasts and in the countries neighbouring Russia, it is business as usual in the air above the Northern European waters with Russia sending up bombers and escorts, and the opposing side scrambling fighter jets.

Last week was somewhat special. The stars and stripes were promoted big time by two US Air Force B-52H bombers dropping training sea mines off the coast of Skåne in Southern Sweden. They were escorted by at least four Swedish Air Force Gripen fighter jets. The training mission, with the Buffs flying in from the United Kingdom, was part of the large scale Baltops 2015 exercise (5 – 20 June), that also saw Swedish and US Marines landing on the Scandinavian coast using the USS San Antonio as main floating base. Baltops 2015 also marked the first time the B-52s were on a real operational training mission inside Swedish air space.

The last couple of days saw the more usual suspects. Russian aircraft gave acte de presence in international airspace bordering Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and Denmark.

Royal Air Force Typhoons came home with nice pictures of a pair of Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-31 Foxhound long-distance interceptors. Saab JAS 39 Gripen planes of the Swedish Air Force shadowed a pair of Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers escorted by two MiG-31s twice in 24 hours, as the Russian Air Force package was making a routine flight from the St. Petersburg area over the Baltic Sea towards Kaliningrad.

Baltic Air Policing
NATO planes at Ämari in Estonia and/or Šiauliai in Lithuania and/or Malbork in Poland also scramble to intercept a Ilyushin IL-20 at least on one occasion. The recon/spy plane is a regular for the NATO jets. The more specials of this week were a Iluyshin / Beriev A-50 AWACS and an Antonov AN-26. Currently the Baltic Air Policing mission on the three bases mentioned, is run by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) and the Belgian Air Component – both each with 4 F-16AM Fighting Falcons – plus the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force – both each with 4 Eurofighter EF2000 / Typhoon jets.

Saber Strike
Meanwhile NATO forces “attacked” a military airfield, Swidwin Airbase in Poland, as part of the multinational exercise Saber Strike 2015 (8 – 19 June) that includes the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well. The Saber Strike airfield assault that included a paradrop was meant to prep ground and air forces for a possible combined operation of the future.

Raptors
In an attempt to keep things at bay in that future the US policy makers are now even considering sending half or a whole squadron of F-22A Raptor air-supiority stealth fighters to the other side of the Atlantic, but neither a time schedule or a possible base of operations has been revealed.

Looks like the start of a warm Summer in usually cold Northern Europe.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): A MiG-31 in earlier action (Image © Olga Balashova / Russian Air Force)