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 Apr 17 2020

Ämari Air Base Provides Vital Support for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing

ÄMARI, Estonia - For six years Ämari Air Base has hosted 18 Allied fighter detachments and facilitated NATO’s mission protecting the skies over the Baltic Sea region together with Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania. At present, a Polish Air Force detachment is executing the NATO mission; it will be replaced by another Ally on May 1. Here is some background on the base in the northwest of the country.

The roots of Ämari Air Base can be traced back until 1919, when a unit performing air base functions was established at a place called Lasnamäe. From 1940 to 1941, the Soviet Union established its military airfield where today Ämari Air Base is located. After the war, it was used as a reserve airfield, which in 1952 was converted into a main airfield. 

The cooperation with the Allies has been successful for both sides as we share our knowledge and experiences

The Estonian Air Force unit Ämari Air Base was founded on 15 May 1997 as a tactical military unit of the Estonian Defence Forces under the command of the Commander of the Estonian Air Force. The main tasks of the Air Base are providing host nation support for the Allies’ personnel and aircraft and the organisation of aviation activities in the Estonian Defence Forces.

Up until 2004 Ämari Air Base also housed a conscript training facility; today the base is only staffed with active servicemen and civilian employees. A major base infrastructure overhaul from 2008 to 2012 paved the way for Ämari Air Base to meet the criteria for inclusion in NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. 

Starting in May 2014, Ämari Air Base received NATO’s fighter detachments, which were deployed to increase the Alliance’s Air Policing capability and assure Allies on the eastern flank of NATO cohesion, solidarity and readiness. 

“When the Estonian Air Force established today's Ämari Air Base, it consisted of around 15 people; today - more than 100 years after it originated - the air base employs a few hundred people every day,” said the Base Commander Lieutenant Colonel Mark Trubok. “It is important to note that global aviation is also roughly 100 years old, which means that our air base is almost as old as most air force units around the world,“ he added.

„Since 2014, we have had the chance to work with nine different nations. The cooperation with the Allies has been successful for both sides as we share our knowledge and experiences,“ said Lieutenant Colonel Trubok.

Ämari Air Base consists of the following sections that are under the authority of the Commander of the Air Base: Base Operations Centre, Base Defence Operations Centre, Flight Group, Airfield Operations Group, Support Group and Training Centre.

In addition to the facilitating NATO’s Air Policing fighter deployments and national training flights, Ämari Air Base hosts aircraft during NATO Air Policing exercises with participation of Swedish and Finnish fighters and multinational exercises such as the bilateral Estonian-US exercise Saber Strike.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on input provided by the Estonian Air Force Public Affairs Office

A controller in the tower of Ämari Air Base. Besides the Allied fighter aircraft that have been stationed here continously since 2014, the staff control many other international aircraft during operations and exercises. Photo courtesy Estonian Air Force
Nine Allies have manned the NATO enhanced Air Policing mission at Ämari since 2014. The picture was taken during a handover/takeover ceremony in 2019 between the German Air Force and the British Royal Air Force. Photo courtesy Estonian Armed Forces
The M-28 light transport aircraft is a recent additon to the Estonian Air Force capabilities and stationed at Ämari Air Base. Photo courtesy Estonian Armed Forces
Hosting international live fly exercises, Swedish Gripen fighter aircraft are no strangers at Ämari Air Base. Photo courtesy Estonian Defence Forces

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