Six US fighter jets arrive in Estonia for training exercise

Six U.S. fighter jets landed at Ämari Air Base in north Estonia on Wednesday to participate in the Astute Protector military exercise.

The main goal of the F-15 fighters is to support the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission which is currently staffed by the Belgian Air Force and their F-16 fighter jets.

In addition, Danish F-16 fighter jets will arrive at the Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania on Thursday and will carry out the same exercises in cooperation with the Polish F-16 fighter jets located there. 

During the exercise, air-to-air and air-to-ground training procedures will be practiced across the Baltics by NATO allies.

The U.S. jets are usually stationed at the Lakenheath Royal Air Force Base in the U.K. and they will stay in Estonia until the end of the week. The U.S. regularly conducts exercises with other NATO allies.

A General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon in Belgian air force service. Source: EDF

Major General Jörg Lebert, chief of staff of the NATO Air Force Command, said: "The additional aircraft sent on the mission will work closely with existing units to increase our readiness, build critical interoperability and emphasize the strong solidarity of the Alliance as a whole."

On Sunday, a U.S. C-130 transport aircraft made three flights to Estonia to deliver equipment for the exercise, the Estonian Ministry of Defense said.

The exercises are taking place amid Russia's build-up of troops on the border of eastern Ukrainian. Analysts believe there are more than 100,000 troops and military equipment massed there and that a further invasion is imminent.

The U.S. has readied 8,500 troops in the event of a move by the Russian troops and NATO has sent additional warships and fighter jets to the Baltics and Romania.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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