TALLINN - A changeover ceremony of the Baltic air policing mission took place at the Amari Air Base in northwestern Estonia on Tuesday where the French Air Force handed over the mission to the Air Force of Germany, which will conduct air policing using Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets.
"The war against Ukraine has made your mission here in Amari even more important for Estonia, the Baltic states and also NATO. Your presence in guarding our skies shows that Estonia and NATO member states can count on the support of all allies. NATO is united against unjustified aggression," Estonia's Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur said.
The fighter jets stationed at the Amari base are on duty 24/7, perform intercept sorties when necessary, and conduct regular training flights. Since 2014, Germany has participated in the air policing mission at Amari on eight occasions.
Germany's Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said that particularly in the current security policy situation, the Bundeswehr's commitment on NATO's eastern flank is very important.
"Moscow should have no illusions. The alliance is more united than ever," Lambrecht said.
"Our unwavering commitment to the security of our allies is evident also in Estonia. The fact that we are involved in the Baltic air policing mission and guarantee the integrity of the airspace of our allies shows that Germany can be counted on. We live up to our responsibilities and are a partner that our allies can count on. The Air Force, along with highly professional men and women, is making an impressive contribution to this," the German minister added.
According to a decision of the North Atlantic Council, air forces of NATO member states based on rotation participate in the air policing mission of the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian airspace since March 2004, when the Baltic countries joined NATO. The air policing mission was extended indefinitely by NATO at the 2012 Chicago summit.
The second air component of the NATO Baltic air policing mission is based at the Siauliai air base in Lithuania, where the mission is currently performed by the Hungarian Air Force using Gripen fighter jets.