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Ämari Air Base to be closed for renovation through to autumn

Eurofighter Typhoons in RAF and Luftwaffe service taxiing at Ämari last year.
Eurofighter Typhoons in RAF and Luftwaffe service taxiing at Ämari last year. Source: FCDO

Ämari Air Base, home of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission, is to be renovated this year, at a cost of €18.5 million.

This means the base will be closed to fast jets for much of 2024, with the Baltic mission relocated to Latvia during that time.

The Estonian Defense Investments Center (RKIK) and construction firm KMG Infra OÜ concluded the contract for the renovation of the Ämari base, with the work due to start in March.

The main aspect of the project, improvements to the base's runway, will be complete in October.

Liisi Hallikma, responsible for the RKIK's Western infrastructure portfolio, said: "Renovating the Ämari air traffic zone is time-critical, technologically complex and must meet stringent quality requirements."

"The timely completion of the renovation work is one of the EDF's priorities," she added.

The contract stipulates KMG Infra performs both design and construction in relation to the air traffic area renovation.

Among other things, the 14-year-old runway, taxiways and apron will be resurfaced, and new runway markings and lighting are to be installed.

The entire project cost is estimated at €18.5 million plus VAT.

While the airfield is being renovated, i.e. from March to October this year, the Baltic air defense mission is to relocate to the Lielvārde air base, near Riga.

Helicopters will still be able to take off and land at Ämari.

The Estonian Air Force's (Õhuvägi) planes are to relocate to Pärnu, where they will undergo maintenance also.

The NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission sees member states whose air forces include fast jet capabilities take on the defensive mission on a rotating basis, with each stint around six months in length.

Currently, the Siły Powietrzne, Poland's air force, holds the mission baton, with past rotations being undertaken by the Royal Air Force (U.K.), the Luftwaffe (Germany), and the air forces of Spain, Italy and Belgium, among several other nations.

This means Ämari, around 40 kilometers southwest of Tallinn, must be ready to receive and host not only these planes but also have the capability to host greater numbers where necessary and as a result of the changed security situation.

The upgrade reflects this, as well as developments in safety and other aspects of aviation in the years since the airfield became fully operational in its current guise, in 2010.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mirjam Mäekivi

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