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Air Force

The Estonian Air Force is a fully professional service of the Estonian Defence Forces. Since it’s re-establishment in 1994 the Estonian Air Force has been built up from scratch by a generation of young and talented airmen who embrace constant change and advances in technology. The eagerness and energy of the relatively young officer and NCO corps has made it possible that the Estonian Air Force operates 24/7/365 and is equipped with state-of-the-art modern systems.

The Estonian Air Force is designed to cooperate with NATO and its Allies and therefore is looking optimistically towards the future of elevated operational tempo across the board of its activities. Estonia is the smallest nation in NATO to have Air Force as an independent service branch. Limited manpower and resources have forced us to be highly efficient and shaped our focus which is set on cooperation with Allies and Partners. With insufficient resources to develop indigenous combat air power, the geographical position of Estonia dictates that our nation must be able to maintain control of its airspace to preserve our security interests.

The Estonian Air Force is the enabler that makes Allied air operations over Estonia possible. We operate our national Air C2 network which together with its sophisticated sensors is an organic part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. Our Forward Air Controller program is combat-proven in Afghanistan and ready to work with our Allies in defence of our common values. The Ämari Air Base is the home of the NATO Baltic Enhanced Air Policing Mission since May 2014. On September 3rd 2014, during his historical visit to Tallinn, President Barack Obama stated:
“Today, I can announce that this initiative will include additional air force units and aircrafts for training exercises here in the Nordic-Baltic region. And we agree with our Estonian allies that an ideal location to host and support these exercises would be the Ämari Air Base here in Estonia.”
Since then the Ämari Air Base has seen several squadron-level training deployments by the USAF and other Air Forces. With our flexible airspace, air-to-ground range, low-level flying area system, and other attractive training opportunities, the Ämari AB is open to host Allied and Partner nations’ flying units.

People

Colonel Rauno Sirk

Commander of the Air Force

Generals

Brigadier General OF-6
Brigadier General OF-6
Major General OF-7
Major General OF-7
Lieutenant General OF-8
Lieutenant General OF-8
General OF-9
General OF-9

Senior Officers

Major OF-3
Major OF-3
Lieutenant Colonel OF-4
Lieutenant Colonel OF-4
Colonel OF-5
Colonel OF-5

Junior Officers

Ensign OF-1
Ensign OF-1
Second Lieutenant OF-1
Second Lieutenant OF-1
First Lieutenant OF-1
First Lieutenant OF-1
Captain OF-2
Captain OF-2

Senior NCOs

Technical Sergeant OR-6
Technical Sergeant OR-6
Master Sergeant OR-7
Master Sergeant OR-7
Senior Master Sergeant OR-8
Senior Master Sergeant OR-8
Chief Master Sergeant OR-9
Chief Master Sergeant OR-9
Chief Master Sergeant of Air Force OR-9
Chief Master Sergeant of Air Force OR-9

Junior NCOs

Sergeant OR-4
Sergeant OR-4
Sergeant OR-4
Sergeant OR-4
Staff Sergeant OR-5
Staff Sergeant OR-5

Privates

Airman OR-1
Airman OR-1
Senior Airman OR-2
Senior Airman OR-2

Military Flight Procedures in Estonian Airspace

Procedures for Low Level Flying of Military Aircraft greater than 250 knots in Estonian Airspace

Tapa Air-to-Ground Range Regulation

Ämari Tower (TWR) Local Operation Procedures

Estonian Airspace Management at Levels 2 and 3

The Estonian Air Force was born with the Republic of Estonia. The first Air Force unit was formed on 21 November 1918. This, however, did not yet constitute a separate armed service, but a subunit in the formation of a larger engineering unit. Soon after, the first plane was acquired as booty from the communists – the fighter Farman HF-30 of French origin. Over the course of time, other aircraft were accumulated – mostly, bought on debt. By the end of the War of Independence in 1920, the Estonian armed forces had 44 planes at their disposal. Unfortunately only a few of them were airworthy.

Air Force History

In the period after the War of Independence and before the Soviet occupation (1920–1940) the Estonian Air Force was mainly comprised of three air units based in Tallinn, Tartu and Rakvere. There was an airbase along with the workshops in Tallinn. The flight school and the air defence artillery group operating as a part of the Air Force were also based in Tallinn.

In the first decade of the period of independence in particular, numerous aircrafts were acquired. These included aircraft produced in Germany, France and also Great Britain. The peak number of aircraft was reached in 1932 when 77 mostly up-to-date planes were registered. In the wake of World War II, large-scale commissions were made from Germany and Great Britain, but most of the planes ordered never arrived due to the war. In the 1930s, fairly adequate aircrafts were designed and built in Estonia, too.

As the Republic of Estonia was wiped off the world map in 1940, it brought along a more than 50-year disruption in the history of the Estonian Air Force; yet, both during the war and also after the war, there were Estonians serving in the air forces of Russia (USSR), Germany, the United States, and other countries.

Upon the re-establishment of the Republic of Estonia and the Estonian Defence Forces, re-formation of the Air Force started immediately. In 1994, Colonel Vello Loemaa, currently a retired Major General, was appointed as Commander of the Estonian Air Force.

The Estonian Air Force consists of three elements. The Air Force Headquarters was establishes in 1994, the Air Base in 1997 and the Air Surveillance Wing in 1998.

The former Soviet military air base at Ämari became the airbase of the Estonian Air Force. Between 2008 and 2012 the airbase underwent a complete renovation programme, to such a degree that it could now be considered a new base. Since 1 May 2014, it is the base for the NATO Baltic Air Policing Unit. The air base has its own small flight unit that includes a Soviet-era light transport aircraft An-2, and Robinson R-44 helicopters acquired in 2002. In 2006, the project of L-39 training jets was launched. Currently there are two aircraft of this type at the disposal of the air base.

The Air Surveillance Wing started monitoring the Estonian airspace with radars of Soviet origin. In 2003 a modern TPS-77 radar manufactured by Lockheed Martin was placed into operation at Kellavere radar site and in the spring of 2013, the Ground Master 403 radar manufactured by the ThalesRaytheonSystems was installed on the island of Muhu. In January 2015 a radar station equipped with a radar by the same manufacturer was opened at Tõikamäe near Otepää. In 2000, the Ämari Air Sovereignty Operations Centre, the predecessor of the current Command and Reporting Post, was opened. In 2006, the post achieved fighter controller capacity.

An important step for the Estonian Air Force was joining NATO in 2004. As a result we have a modern and well-functioning airbase, an Air Surveillance Wing in the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS), and the Air Force Headquarters functioning efficiently within the framework of NATO.

Last updated: 29. April 2020, 09:45

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