A pair of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II multi-role combat stealth jets have touched down at Ämari Air Base, as part of a support package being provided by the United States to the Baltic States and Poland, following an announcement made by President Joe Biden earlier in the week.
Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense Kusti Salm said Thursday that: "Two American F-35 fighters, the most powerful stealth system in the world, landed in Ämaris today. They have been sent here to strengthen the Baltic states."
"Two have arrived in Estonia, while a total of eight have been sent to Poland and the Baltic region."
Welcome, #Allies! The speedy arrival of Allied presence in Estonia with its F-35 fighters shows the readiness to defend its Allies! #WeAreNATO #StrongerTogether @HQUSAFEAFAF— MoD Estonia (@MoD_Estonia) February 24, 2022
In addition to the F-35s, 800 U.S. Army troops and over 30 Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters are being redeployed across Poland and the Baltic States.
The F-35 is, the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) reports, the most expensive weapons system ever to have been produced, and is capable of performing the functions of a fighter jet, a reconnaissance aircraft and a tactical bomber.
U.S. F-35s arrived in yesterday. Our continued reinforcement of @NATO's eastern flank demonstrates U.S. commitment to our allies. The is fully committed to Estonia, and together we are responding firmly to attempts to undermine the rules-based international order. pic.twitter.com/vSsVGAUKpi— USEmbassyTallinn (@USEmbTallinn) February 25, 2022
President Biden said Tuesday that, given the deteriorating defense and security situation, the materiel and personnel would be sent north and east, primarily from Germany and Greece.
Ämari is home to the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission, and hosted Italian Air Force F-35s as recently as last summer.
Estonia's foreign minister, Eva-Maria Liimets, spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken by phone, as did her Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts, and also expressed thanks for the arrival of the two planes.
Together with colleagues talked w/ @SecBlinken about the Transatlantic response to Russia's atrocious full-scale military attack on #Ukraine. Grateful for additional US deployments & speedy arrival of F-35 fighters in Estonia . #WeAreNATO #StopRussianAggression https://t.co/FkS6xlTXOz— Eva-Maria Liimets (@eliimets) February 24, 2022
This piece was updated to include information on Eva-Maria Liimets' conversation with Antony Blinken.
Editor: Andrew Whyte