German Eurofighters On Patrol In The Baltics
It’s the third time the German Air Force has taken charge of Baltic Air Policing (BAP) duties. The aircraft are part of the Luftwaffe´s 74th Tactical Air Force Wing, based at Neuburg Air Base in Bavaria.
Operating from the Ämari Air Base in Estonia, the German Air Force took over the role from the UK Royal Air Force. The handover was marked by a ceremony at Ämari which was attended by former Estonian President Arnold Ruutel, Defence Minister Hannes Hanso, Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, Germany's Charge d'Affaires Reinhard Wiemer and the RAF Typhoon Force Commander, Air Commodore Ian Duguid.
Defence Minister Hannes Hanso said: "As recently as three years ago there were no rotating allied troops at Ämari and we were living in a totally different security situation. Let me assure you that your presence is sending a strong signal of the unity and adaptability of NATO and we definitely don't see your contribution as taken for granted.“
Meanwhile, German and Latvian troops recently took part in a joint exercise in Latvia, not far from the Russian border, as part of a broader initiative by NATO to bolster air defences. Germany deployed close to 80 troops and 400 tonnes of equipment, which included a mobile control centre, for the exercise.
Lieutenant General Karl Muellner, chief of the German Air Force, said the exercise would help German and Latvian troops practice the complex interplay of technology, personnel and unfamiliar terrain ahead of any potential real deployment. The joint operations are part of NATO's "Persistent Presence" exercise and involve Germany's Deployable Control and Reporting Centre, which is patrolling a section of Baltic airspace using its own and several Baltic radars.
Earlier in 2016, NATO leaders agreed to move four battalions totaling more than 3,000 troops to the Baltic States and Eastern Poland for the first time, and increase air and sea patrols.