Ratas thanks outgoing French air force, Estonian Defense Forces at Ämari ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Jüri Ratas meeting with French air force Ämari contingent commander Lt. Col. Joan Dussourd Wednesday.
Jüri Ratas meeting with French air force Ämari contingent commander Lt. Col. Joan Dussourd Wednesday. Source: Government Office

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) visited Ämari Air base Wednesday, where he met with members of the French Air Force (Armée de l'Air Française), nearing the end of its NATO Baltic Air Policing stint.

Ratas noted the work of Estonia's defense forces in making Ämari the viable base, one of only two in the Baltic States used by fast jets involved in the air policing role, that it is today.

"More than 250 members of the Estonian Defense Forces work around the clock in Ämari to ensure that combat-ready fighter jets are ready to take off in minutes. This is an invaluable contribution to enabling the presence of our allies and ensuring Estonia's security," the prime minister said, via a government press release. 

The French contingent, which mostly arrived at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in spring, is around 1000 strong, and centers around the Dassault Mirage 2000-5 multi-role fighter.

Ratas met the unit's commander, Lt. Col. Joan Dussourd, and said of French-Estonian cooperation that: "Estonian-French defensive cooperation is both strong and reciprocal. I am sure that the French air force will leave here having had great experiences and with positive emotion at the end of the rotation."

Mirages from Ämari have made recent fly-overs including on Bastile Day (July 14) and over Saaremaa during the recent NATO "Velo" cycle tour of Estonia. 

The French contingent will be replaced soon by the returning German air force. 

NATO air policing is based in Šiauliai in northern Lithuania, as well as Ämari. 

Estonia joined NATO in 2004.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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