German Air Force takes over Baltic air policing mission (1)
In a ceremony at the Estonian Air Force’s Ämari air base on Wednesday, Royal Air Force airmen handed over NATO’s Baltic air policing duties to a contingent of the German Air Force.
On Wednesday the contingent of the Royal Air Force at Ämari air base handed over the duties of NATO’s Baltic air policing mission to a newly arrived German Air Force unit. For the Germans, it is their third turn.
Former Estonian President Arnold Rüütel and Defense Minister Hannes Hanso (SDE) attended the ceremony, along with Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, German chargé d'affaires Reinhard Wiemer, and the RAF’s Typhoon Force commander, Air Commodore Ian Duguid.
Speaking to the British personnel present, Hanso said that Estonia wasn’t taking their efforts for granted. “I want to remind everybody that just three years ago there were no allied forces rotating in and out of Ämari, and that we lived in a completely different security situation,” Hanso said.
He added that the allied presence of NATO’s Baltic air policing mission sent a clear signal of unity and ability to adapt.
Lt. Gen. Riho Terras awarded the RAF contingent medals for their service and thanked them for their efforts in ensuring the security of the airspace of the Baltic states.
The German Air Force is taking on the air policing duties for the third time already. The Typhoon fighters that arrived in Ämari on Wednesday are part of its 74th tactical air wing based in Neuburg in Bavaria.
NATO’s local air policing mission operates from a second air base in Šiauliai, Lithuania. For the last four months, a unit of the Portuguese Air Force was stationed there that is now handing on its tasks to the French Air Force.