Beth Stevenson, flightglobal.com , 23 Dec 2014
The increased tensions in eastern Europe as a result of Russia’s advances into Ukraine resulted in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) effort ramping up in May this year, including the establishment of a permanent detachment at Ämari air base in Estonia.
Ämari BAP operations were bolstered up to 24/7 readiness, and are now set to continue at this level until at least the end of 2015 as a series of full-time detachments are planned to provide quick reaction alert (QRA) capabilities in the region.
NATO has decided that a Eurofighter Typhoon capability will extend throughout 2015 for QRA operations from the Baltic state; currently a German air force Eurofighter deployment operates from the base, and will hand over to a Spanish air force detachment of the same aircraft type on 2 January.
The four-month Spanish Typhoon stationing will be followed by one from the UK, and then another from Germany, taking the BAP QRA capability at Ämari up to the end of 2015 with “extensive Eurofighter operations”.
“We can’t deliver kinetic effects,” Col Jaak Tarien, commander of the Estonian air force, told media at Ämari on 17 December. “What we do do is support allies that are delivering that effect on our behalf.”
The German air force was stationed with its Eurofighters – on its sixth BAP mission to date, although the first in Estonia – at Amari in September, since when it has carried out some 255 sorties, deploying on an average two flights per day from Monday to Friday.
The detachment includes four aircraft stationed at the base, with two further on a 96h standby in Germany. Typically two aircraft carry out each sortie, while two remain on standby at Ämari.
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Baltic air policing mission in Estonia to continue through 2015