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Six US fighter jets arrived in Estonia for training

Today, six F-15E Strike Eagle fighters from the United States Air Force arrived at Ämari Air Base as part of the Astute Protector exercise. The main goal of the fighters in Estonia is to support the Baltic Air Policing Mission with the F-16 fighter jets of the Belgian Air Force, whose rotation began in December last year.

In addition, Danish F-16 fighter jets will arrive at the Lithuanian Šiauliai airport tomorrow and will perform the same tasks with the Polish F-16 fighter jets there. During the exercise, air-to-air and air-to-ground training procedures will be practiced with allies across the Baltics.

The F-15E fighters belong to the 48th Fighter Wing of the US Air Force and arrived to Estonia from their permanent home base in United Kingdom Lakenheath Air Force Base. The fighters will remain in Estonia until the end of next week.

“Baltic and enhanced Air Policing are enduring NATO missions that deliver constant vigilance of Allied airspace and contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence posture. The additional aircraft will work closely with the current detachments to increase our readiness, build crucial interoperability and underline the robust solidarity across the Alliance,” said Major General Jöerg Lebert, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Allied Air Command.

The United States conducts such exercises on a regular basis to assess its capabilities status and, if necessary, to fulfil its responsibilities as an ally. The exercises will also increase the level of cooperation of NATO Allies in responding to potential crises around the world.

NATO members allocate certain parts of their airspace to air force exercises and drills, including low-flying operations. The governments of the Baltic States have also allocated areas in their airspace for low-level flights. Low-level flights are performed in agreement with the Civil Aviation Administration and the Air Traffic Services.

According to the decision of the North Atlantic Council, the air forces of NATO member states have been guarding the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 29 March 2004, when the Baltic States became members of NATO. As part of the 2012 Chicago Summit, the North Atlantic Council extended the Baltic Air Security Mission indefinitely.

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