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Jun 6 2021

50th edition of BALTOPS exercises Allies and Partners at sea and in the air

RAMSTEIN, Germany – The 50th Baltic Operations (BALTOPS 50) exercise, the premier maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic Region, kicks off today, June 6 involving air and maritime assets from 18 NATO Allies and partner nations in live training events.

"This year, we celebrate the 50th BALTOPS, an exercise that sets the foundation of interoperability across the Alliance," said U.S. Vice Adm. Gene Black, commander, Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO and commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet. "BALTOPS stands as the keystone of our exercise season, demonstrating half a century of the unwavering commitment of our partners and Allies. Lessons learned in BALTOPS enable international strike group operations, advanced missile defense capabilities and seamless surface action group missions."

BALTOPS stands as the keystone of our exercise season, demonstrating half a century of the unwavering commitment of our partners and Allies

Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) will again command and control BALTOPS from its headquarters in Oeiras, Portugal. NATO's Northern Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany will again coordinate and deconflict the air portion during BALTOPS 50. The BALTOPS training area in the Baltic Sea falls within the CAOC's air policing area and the team of specialists has the necessary experience in planning, coordinating and controlling NATO's real-world air activities e.g. related to Air Policing in the Baltic Sea. Consequently, Allied Air Command has tasked the CAOC to control multinational and joint BALTOPS air activities for several years.

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During BALTOPS 50, Allies and Partners will practice interoperability at sea and in the air. Archive photo
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The team of Air Command and Control experts at Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem will be responsible for coordinating the BALTOPS air portion. Archive photo by Sebastien Raffin.
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Starting in 1972, Allied Naval forces have conducted Baltic Operations or BALTOPS enabling interoperability and joint capabilities in the region and beyond. Photo courtesy STRIKFORNATO.

BALTOPS 50 drills will include air defence, anti-submarine warfare, amphibious operations, maritime interdiction, mine countermeasure operations. During the first six days, ships and aircraft will transit through the Danish Straits, focusing on maritime operations in critical chokepoints, ensuring access and freedom of navigation in the Baltic Sea. The exercise will continue to move East during its two phases, operating in accordance with international law and supported by participating Allies and Partners.

For the first time, exercise design incorporates defensive cyber warfare tactics, techniques and procedures as BALTOPS continues to adapt and train to ensure an asymmetric advantage in the era of modern warfare. Another first is the integration of the German Air Force Multinational Air Group Days into BALTOPS 50, allowing to mutually benefit from available air and naval assets to conduct meaningful joint training.

BALTOPS 50 involves participation from 18 nations. The 16 NATO and two Partner nations will provide approximately 40 maritime units, 60 aircraft, and 4,000 personnel.

The participating nations are: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S. BALTOPS, held in the Baltic region since in 1972, is a joint, maritime-focused exercise that brings together NATO Allies and partners in order to increase interoperability and enhance flexibility among the participants.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based the release of US 6th Fleet

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