Tag: Estonia

175th Wing Deployment ÄMARI AIR BASE in Estonia

A-10C 175th Wing Air National Guard. Photo by SMSgt Jim Foard) (RELEASED) Officila Photo by: Jim Foard,SMSgt,,, United States

For just over a week now, ten A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft and approximately 270 Airmen have been stations at Ämari Air Base, Estonia, to participate in a flying training deployment.

The deployment and training efforts are funded by the European Reassurance Initiative as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which allows the U.S. to work with allies and partners to develop and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security.

“The long-standing relationship between Estonia and Maryland reinforces U.S. commitment to regional security,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jason Burns, Bilateral Affairs officer assigned to the Office of Defense Cooperation. “The exercise presents the opportunity for both nations to engage in critical military movements and hone individual skill sets.”

The 175th Cyberspace Operations Group deployed with a Virtual Interconnected Training Environment. The VITE from the 175th Wing, Warfield Air National Guard Base, Maryland, deployed in support of an overseas training exercise for the first time ever.

“The VITE allows us to simulate networks, any network we want, to conduct exercises and training,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jori Robinson, 175th Cyberspace Operations Group commander. “It allows us to do real world training in a simulated environment where it is safe to conduct these types of exercises.”

During the exercise, the A-10Cs will train with multi-national Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and Combat Control Teams at Amari and Jagala, Estonia.

In addition, an MC-130J Commando II from the 352nd Special Operations Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom, and a combat communications team will deploy from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

175th Wing MC-130J Hercules

While deployed, the A-10C’s will also train with the Finnish air force F/A-18 Hornets in Finland, Spanish air force F/A-18 Hornets in Estonia and multinational JTACs in Latvia. Flight operations will take place in Finnish, Estonian, Latvian and international airspace. This training will focus on maintaining joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities.

Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet

“Working with various countries allows us to share and learn new experiences, thoughts and ideas while training for optimal preparedness,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Tony Queen, 175th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flight chief. “After all, you train the way you fight.”

 

Latvia hosting annual international ordnance disposal drill Open Spirit

NATO Mine Clearance Diver prepare to submerge

The Latvian Navy is hosting this year’s edition of the international annual mine clearance and ordnance disposal drill Open Spirit which is taking place between August 18 and 31.

The exercise aims to reduce the threat of unexploded ordnance throughout the Baltic Sea region, including seabed communications lines, international shipping routes, and fishing areas.

It is hosted on a yearly rotational basis since 1997 by one of three Baltic nations – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Fourteen nations are participating in Open Spirit 2017, including Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom, the United States. Ships from NATO’s Standing Mine Counter Measure Group 1 will be among the participating units.

This year, the exercise is joined by eleven Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) clearance divers and support personnel who will be operating from the naval base in Mikeltornis.

Lieutenant-Commander William Barter, Commanding Officer of Fleet Diving Unit (Atlantic), is the Task Force Commander of Open Spirit 2017.

 

Estonia yet to receive an invitation from Russia to observe Zapad

Russian Embassy, Tallinn, Estonia

Estonia has not received an invitation from Russia to observe Zapad, a large-scale joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise to take place in September. Russian authorities, however, will present the exercises to military attaches accredited to other countries’ diplomatic missions in Moscow at a separate event.

“Military attaches accredited to Moscow have been invited to attend an event at Luga Training Camp on Sept. 18-19, in the course of which Russia will present the Zapad joint military exercise,” Ministry of Defence spokesperson Susan Lilleväli told BNS on Wednesday. “The Estonian defense attaches are ready to take part in the event.”

The joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise will be held in the territory of both countries from Sept. 14-20. The exercise has sparked concern in other countries as, in similar exercises in 2009 and 2013, Russia, among other things, allegedly rehearsed an attack on its neighbors.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in mid-July that, “based on previous experiences related to previous exercises, we have every reason to believe that substantially more troops are participating than the official reported numbers.” He encouraged Russia to allow NATO observers to monitor the maneuvers.

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik has expressed the same concern, telling weekly Maaleht in July that Russia should declare the exercise on the basis of the Vienna Document, according to which any exercise involving more than 9,000 participants should be declared. Russia has stated that 13,000 troops will be participating in the September exercise.

Belarus has sent invitations to Estonia and other countries, which Estonia has already chosen to accept, to observe the exercise on its territory. It has not offered any details, however.

 

NATO jets in Baltics scrambled 8 times last week to escort Russian aircraft

Ejército del Aire F/A-18C. 5 Spanish Air Force F/A-18Cs make up the Baltic Air Policing element in Estonia, based in Ämari as of 1 May 2017.

VILNIUS – NATO fighter jets serving in the Baltic air policing mission were scrambled eight times last week to intercept Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said that a total of 21 Russian planes were intercepted, around half of which were fighter jets, while the NATO jets also identified several transport and passenger planes over the Baltic Sea.
Most of the Russian aircraft had their automatic transponders switched off, the statement said.

The biggest number of scrambles took place last Thursday, when the alliance’s jets took off three times in total and intercepted ten aircraft.

Polish Air Force F-16C Block 52+ Fighters have been based at Based in Siauliai in Lithuania since May 1 2017.

Tarja Halonen, the former President of Finland says that Estonia has no reason to fear Russia

Tarja Halonen, president of Finland from 2000-2012

There is no reason for Estonia to panically fear Russia, Tarja Halonen, president of Finland from 2000-2012, told Eesti Paevaleht daily in an interview.

“You are in the European Union, NATO, and you use the euro. In this manner you are not only in a safe house, but have become an independent mature country,” Halonen said. “That is why we say to you sometimes that calm down now and there is no reason to panic. Which does not mean, however, that we say that there’s no reason to be worried looking at Russia,” she added.

In the words of Halonen, Finns know Russians better than Americans do.

“Rule of law, human rights and democracy, they haven’t had very much of them ever and therefore it is difficult to build them up too. They are attempting to achieve it somehow, but it’s difficult work,” Halonen said.

“It was difficult even in Germany when East and West Germany were brought together, but it was only for 50 years that East Germany had been out of the system. Just like Estonia,” she added.

“You forget it easily that we had our one hundred years under the Russian tsar too, we had the Winter War and the Continuation War. We lost a large portion of our country and had to resettle a large number of residents. We paid the Soviets a big amount of money in damages of war. But what I always say is that we were on the easier side,” Halonen said.

“You had your very difficult time – the occupation. That is difficult for us to understand too. So, yes, in my opinion we should be tolerant in the criticism that we level against each other. Our mutual relations have a strong base and we criticize each other not for being there, but just certain things,” the former president of Finland added.

Halonen took part in the festival of opinion culture held in the central Estonian regional capital Paide on Friday and Saturday, where she read the keynote of a discussion titled “How to stand against populism and extremism?”

 

 

Estonia: NATO ships arrive in Tallinn for weekend

The Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) arrived in Tallinn for a scheduled port visit over the weekend to to replenish the ship’s supplies and prepare for upcoming exercises.

During the visit the vessels are to make preparations for returning to sea and will give members of the crew the chance to rest for a few days, military spokespeople in Tallinn said. After the visit the NATO ships will remain in Estonia to carry out several exercises and be prepared for the upcoming mine clearance operation.

“The presence of NATO naval units and the clearance of World War era mines will make Estonian waterways safer for us all,” Cmdr. Peeter Ivask, commander of the fleet of the Estonian Navy, said.
Head of the SNMCMG1 Lt. Capt. Gvido Laudups on Friday also visited the headquarters of the Estonian defense forces and the NATO command element and met with Meelis Oidsalu, deputy secretary general of the Defense Ministry for defense planning.

As of June 29, SNMCMG1 is headed by Latvian Lt. Capt. Gvido Laudups, who took over the position from Estonian Cmdr. Johan-Elias Seljamaa of the Estonian Navy. The flagship of the group is the Latvian Navy’s support vessel LVNS Virsaitis. The Estonian minehunter Sakala is also part of the international unit this half-year.

 

Estonian military to accept invitation of Belarus to attend Zapad

Chief of General Staff of the Estonian Defence Forces Riho Terras

Estonia will accept the invitation by Belarus to send observers to the Zapad military drill to be jointly held by Russian and Belarusian armed forces this September, the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces has stated.

Estonian public broadcaster ERR reports that the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces General Riho Terras has said this week in an interview with Eesti Päevaleht newspaper that Zapad exercises have taken place for decades already, also during the Soviet times.

Terras noted that this summer, Belarus and Russia have already conducted preparatory joint exercises testing communications in July and currently a demonstrative drill is taking place in Pskov, not far from Estonia and Latvia.

«It is important that we know what is going on. (..) That we know in detail what is going on, that we keep track of it and be prepared. But we must also be prepared when exercises aren’t being conducted. I don’t think that anything will occur in the framework of field exercises which could spill over to our side or which we will tangibly be able to see,» ERR cited Terras as evaluating in the interview.

 

Airmen deploy to support Estonia FTD

Ten A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, a MC-130J Commando II, and approximately 270 Airmen and associated equipment from bases across the U.S. and Europe will deploy to Amari Air Base, Estonia, Aug. 4-20.

Ten A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, a MC-130J Commando II, and approximately 270 Airmen and associated equipment from bases across the U.S. and Europe will deploy to Amari Air Base, Estonia, Aug. 4-20.
The deployment is funded by the European Reassurance Initiative as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which ensures U.S. European Command has a ready persistent rotational presence of American air, land and sea forces in the region.

The A-10s from the 175th Wing, Warfield Air National Guard Base, Md., will train with multinational Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and Combat Control Teams at Amari and Jagala, Estonia.
The MC-130J is from the 352nd Special Operations Wing, RAF Mildenhall, U. K. and a combat communications team will deploy from the 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

While deployed, the A-10s will also train with the Finnish Air Force F/A-18 Hornets in Finland, Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornets in Estonia and multinational JTACs in Latvia. Flight operations will take place in Finnish, Estonian, Latvian and international airspace.

This training will focus on maintaining joint readiness while building interoperability capabilities.

 

US may deploy 7 fighter-jets in Lithuania during Zapad drills – president

Pilots with the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

VILNIUS, Jul 31, BNS – The United States may station seven fighter-jets in Lithuania for the time of the large-scale Russian-Belarusian war games Zapad 2017 this fall, President Dalia Grybauskaite said in Tallinn on Monday.

“We expect as many as seven jets, almost double in the nearest future,” Grybauskaite told Lithuanian journalists during the meeting of her Baltic counterparts with US Vice-President Mike Pence in the Estonian capital.

US fighter-jets should arrive in Lithuania in late August or early September for the NATO air-policing mission.

The NATO air-policing mission is currently conducted from Lithuania and Estonia by four fighter-jets in each country.

Grybauskaite said the Baltic states were happy with the US guarantees that go beyond words.
In her words, more US troops and equipment will be deployed in Lithuania during Zapad 2017.

Officials in Lithuania are mainly concerned over the actual number of troops involved in the exercise and the scenario or training.

The US already increased the presence of its air-policing jets in Lithuania in early 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.

 

Royal Navy Merlins complete five-month stint aboard FS Mistral

FS Mistral, French Navy Landing Helicopter Dock Ship

A group of Royal Navy sailors and marines together with two Royal Navy Merlin Mk3 helicopters spent the past five months deployed aboard the French helicopter carrier FS Mistral during its Jeanne D’Arc mission.

FS Mistral, together with frigate FS Courbet, embarked Royal Navy personnel in March for a deployment that took the force as far east as Japan and Guam, as far south as the northern coast of Australia, with visits to Vietnam, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Djibouti.

Commenting on the deployment, UK’s armed forces minister Mark Lancaster said: “From fighting Daesh in the Middle East to jointly operating in Estonia as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence, our enduring defence partnership with France is stronger than ever as we work together to tackle global threats.

This deployment has demonstrated the ability of our world class Royal Navy and Royal Marines to operate alongside our French allies and international partners as Britain delivers on its commitment to global maritime security.”

Merlin Mk3 of the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF), landing on the FS Mistral LHD Ship

Throughout the deployment, UK personnel worked closely with international partners to strengthen defence cooperation in the region. British troops participated in the first ever four-part maritime exercise involving France, Japan, the UK and US, where as part of a week-long practice assault, the two Merlins moved 330 troops from the four nations to and from the island of Tinian.

UK troops also met with the Vietnam People’s Navy in Ho Chi Minh City to compare national maritime operating procedures and exchange experiences, and during a port call to Egypt, British forces took part in a cross-decking exercise alongside French and Egyptian Armed Forces.

 

Finnish training missions to be flown with the United States National Guard in August

International co-operation improves Finland’s defence capability and is part of the daily activities of the Air Force. The United States is an important partner for Finland, and training with the U.S. National Guard gives us an opportunity to draw best practices and share experiences.

Autumn 2015 marked the first time when Hawk jet trainers of the Finnish Air Force undertook training missions with A-10s from the United States.

The Finnish Air Force will carry out training missions with A-10 attack aircraft of the U.S. National Guard, focusing on air combat training and air-to-ground operations training. The flight operations will take place in Finnish and international airspace.

The participating A-10 attack aircraft belong to the 104th Fighter Squadron, part of the 175th Wing of the Maryland Air National Guard. They will be visiting Estonia for exercise purposes in August. The Finnish Air Force will be represented by F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighters and Hawk jet trainers, a total of six aircraft. Additionally, Army troops will take part in joint  air-to-ground operations training.

The flight operations will be conducted on weekdays between 8 am and 6 pm, mostly in designated exercise areas located in Southern Finland. Although the A-10s will mainly be using Estonian air bases during the exercise, individual aircraft will also visit FiAF bases.

The Finnish Air Force has flown training missions with Baltic-based detachments since 2015. In addition to the U.S. Armed Forces, the training missions have been participated by aircraft representing the Royal Air Force and the French and German Air Forces as well as detachments of the Swedish Air Force operating from their domestic bases. Autumn 2015 marked the first time when Hawk jet trainers of the Finnish Air Force undertook training missions with A-10s from the United States.

Further information: Tomi Böhm, LtCol, Commander of Fighter Squadron 31, Karelia Air Command, tel. +358 299 800 (operator)