On a technical level, the Ämari air base is suitable for hosting a permanent NATO base, but additional staff will have to be brought on site.
Commenting on the inspection of the base by two NATO officers on Thursday, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Riivo Valge told ETV on Thursday that the current shortcomings in terms of personnel are not an obstacle.
The base is staffed for a rotating air policing mission, four months at a time, and not for hosting an air base all year.
If a political decision is made to make Ämari a year-round base like the Šiauliai base in Lithuania, Valge said, some additional machinery is needed, but most of all, the number of staff would need to be roughly doubled.
“We are talking about some 450-500 people, we currently have 170 people,” he said.
Additional staff must be hired from Estonia, but NATO partners would bring in technical staff for the maintenance of aircraft.
Estonia is lobbying for hosting a second permanent NATO base in the Baltic states and sees Ämari as a good location.