NATO air force exercise kicks off in Baltic skies
NATO's two-day air force exercise Ramstein Alloy began in the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Monday. The key objective is to rehearse guarding Baltic airspace.
Also held on Monday was an air rescue exercise of the air force called "Pulp Fiction", which included the Police and Border Guard Board, Rescue Board and emergency medical care workers, military spokespeople told BNS.
Deputy chief of staff operations at NATO's Headquarters Allied Air Command, Brig. Gen. Andrew Hansen, said: "NATO's Allied Air Command, Estonia as the organizing country and other participating states have engaged in close cooperation and planned another challenging program aimed at rehearsing various tactics, techniques and procedures with rapid reaction airborne assets.
"Regular exercises and cooperation with our regional allies and partners are crucial for ensuring the presence of an efficient air force that serves to defend the Baltic airspace,"
Hansen added the inclusion of refueling aircraft and NATO's airborne early warning and control aircraft together with the opportunity to carry out close air fire missions with Estonian forward air controllers improved the efficiency of the exercise and the preparedness of the Alliance.
The objective of the series of annual exercises, in which Estonia has the leading role this year, is to hone command and control of NATO airspace surveillance and control, air policing and other capabilities in the Baltic region.
In addition to German and Italian fighters deployed at the Ämari and Siauliai air bases as part of the Baltic air policing mission, participants in the exercise also include the air force personnel of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Poland the Netherlands and Portugal with altogether over 20 airborne assets.
NATO's airborne early warning and control aircraft AWACS E-3, which will also be present in the Baltic airspace during the exercise, is planned to carry out a flyover over Tallinn on Tuesday.
In parallel with Ramstein Alloy, a joint exercise of the Baltic states called Ramstein Guard will also be carried out, the objective of which is to test the functioning of air surveillance systems in an environment of electronic warfare.
"International exercises such as Ramstein Alloy are crucial in terms of rehearsing cooperation with our allies; however, preparing for crisis situations with our own authorities is equally important," commander of the Estonian Air Force, Col. Rauno Sirk, said.
The objective of the thrice-yearly Ramstein Alloy exercises, once in each of the three Baltic states, is to enhance the interoperability of NATO member and partner nations' air forces in the Baltic Sea region. The exercises are timed so that each of the allied air force rotations changing every four months could take part in one exercise.
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Editor: Helen Wright