TALLINN – Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik at the Amari air base on Wednesday inspected the United States' MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and met with the US Air Force team and the French Air Force contingent on the NATO Baltic air policing mission.
Until the end of July, the US MQ-9 Reaper UAVs, traditionally located in Poland, will be based at the Amari air base for surveillance and intelligence flights. This is part of the close US-Estonian bilateral military cooperation, which supports NATO's deterrence in the region.
"The fighters that are in constant readiness around the clock and 365 days a year send a clear message that the security space protected by the allied forces in Estonia is common," Luik said when meeting with members of the French Air Force contingent.
The minister said that France is an important ally for Estonia with whom there is close cooperation in the field of defense.
Estonia is contributing to the French-led operation Barkhane in Mali as well as to the special operations task force Takuba operating under it. In addition to the Air Force contingent at Amari, France will send a company-sized unit equipped with tanks to Tapa early next year.
The countries participating in NATO's Baltic air policing mission rotate every four months. The French have been ensuring air security out of the Amari base with Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets from May and will hand over their tasks to the German Air Force in September.