The Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) opened the new building of the air operations Control and Reporting Centre in Tallinn on Friday.
The opening of the modern air control and reporting center greatly contributes to the development of the region's defense capability, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Isamaa) said according to EDF spokespeople.
"At this point, all three Baltic states have the opportunity to control both their own as well as regional airspace," Luik explained. "It is also important to emphasize that the new center will help us integrate NATO's missile and air defense systems in NATO's area of responsibility."
He added that the policing of Baltic airspace conducted together with allies out of Ämari Air Base has lasted for nearly six years, and it is no secret that Estonia's perspective is to move on from air policing to air defense capability in the future.
Commander of the Estonian Air Force Col. Rauno Sirk thanked all the people and institutions that had contributed to the establishment of the Control and Reporting Centre.
"We have come a very long way in a short time," Sirk said. "It has been a difficult yet extremely necessary journey. I can say today that we are experts in air surveillance. Our people designed Estonia's air surveillance and control system, which is operated from this building. We can see what is going on in Estonian airspace and near our borders. From this building, we can control our air defense. We have integrated the NATO air defense system, and our cooperation with our civilian partners is very good."
Separate centers increase survivability
The functions of the Combined Control and Reporting Centre currently located in Karmelava, Lithuania, were taken over at the beginning of the year by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania's national centers, which will rotate the responsibility between them.
This new concept will ensure the consistent surveillance and control of Baltic airspace as well as enhanced survivability, meaning that if something were to happen to one of the national control centers, the other two would be capable of taking over at very short notice. All three Control and Reporting Centres conduct air surveillance in shifts on a 24-hour basis.
BALTNET is the Baltic states' shared air surveillance system. The decisions to restructure BALTNET and close the Combined Control and Reporting Centre in Karmelava were made at a meeting of the three countries' defense ministers in Klaipeda on May 24, 2018.
Editor: Aili Vahtla