Saber Strike exercise brings US, British, Finnish units to Estonia

Saber Strike in 2018.
Saber Strike in 2018. Source: Ardi Hallismaa

The Estonian leg of Operation Saber Strike began at the Central Training Area and on the northern coast of Estonia on Monday, where American, British, Finnish and Estonian units will be exercising air defense together.

"During Saber Strike, we're conducting air and missile defense training with our NATO allies,"  U.S. Army Col. Patrick Thompson, commander of the 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, said according to a Ministry of Defense press release. "This training helps build interoperability between our NATO allies and our partners."

The 10th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (10th AAMDC) will conduct a live-fire exercise using its Stryker-based air defense system. This will mark the first time that the 10th AAMDC uses this system outside of its home base in Germany.

Participating in the Estonian leg of the exercise are the Helsinki Air Defence Regiment, American, British and Estonian air defense units, Belgian, British and Polish fighters as well as Estonian Aero L-39 Albatros training jets and a PZL M28 Skytruck.

 "This is the first time Estonian air defense will lead a complex exercise incorporating middle and short range air defense systems and the communications systems of different countries supported by air assets," said Lt. Col. Tanel Lelov, commanding officer of Estonia's Air Defense Battalion. "Saber Strike will test the readiness of our command and control systems as well as our skills and knowledge."

The Helsinki Air Defense Regiment is bringing an NASAMS medium to long range air defense system to Estonia. The U.S. will also be introducing new Stryker-based air defense systems, and Estonia will be using Mistral air defense weapons.

Operation Saber Strike is an annual U.S.-led  multinational exercise that has been held since 2010. This year's exercise is taking place in winter to allow participants to participate in training in harsher conditions.

Altogether 13,000 servicemembers from 13 countries are slated to take part in the exercise, which will include live fire exercises, railway operations, aerial resupply, air defense and air assault exercises.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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