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Apr 5 2023

Germany, UK hand over mission and continue combined Air Policing in Estonia

ÄMARI, Estonia – The German and the Royal Air Force handed over their responsibility for enhanced Air Policing at Ämari, Estonia, in a ceremony on Apr 4, 2023, and keep on securing the Baltic skies in a combined effort under NATO aegis. 

With today’s ceremony we deliver an important message: the mission continues. This is especially poignant as we also celebrate today NATO Day and we are receiving Finland as our 31st member

The traditional handover-takeover ceremony was attended by representatives from NATO, Estonia, Germany and the United Kingdom and formally marked the end of the German deployment and the beginning of the British one. "I want to congratulate the German detachment on the successful execution of their watch over the Baltic airspace and to welcome the British detachment, especially as the new lead nation for the combined air policing,” said Brigadier General Ralf Raddatz, Deputy Commander, Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany during the ceremony.

International representatives in front of an RAF Typhoon and a German Eurofighter during the Handover-Takeover ceremony at Ämari Air Base, Estonia. Photo by Maurice Heck.
The German Detachment led by Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Hachmeister in front of a German Eurofighter during the ceremony. Photo by Maurice Heck.
Air Vice Marshal Phil Robinson, Commander No 11 Group, HQ Air Command addresses the audience with the RAF detachment and one of their Typhoons in the background. Photo by Maurice Heck.
"With today’s ceremony we deliver an important message: NATO's mission continues,” said Deputy Commander CAOC Uedem, Brigadier General Ralf Raddatz. Photo by Maurice Heck

This time, both detachments have an eight-week overlap conducting combined Air Policing duties. This means that mixed quick reaction alert scrambles take off from Ämari demonstrating the units’ close integration at the tactical level. Several times, a Luftwaffe Eurofighter and a Royal Air Force Typhoon launched side-by-side in alert scrambles to intercept Russian military aircraft flying close to NATO airspace.  

“This is the culmination of a yearlong process enhancing that level of integration, and I congratulate both detachments on this great achievement,” General Raddatz said. “The Estonian Armed Forces – our hosts here at Ämari – have also been a role model when it comes to integration,” he added

“Since 2014, when Russia illegally annexed Crimea and NATO responded with assurance measures, Ämari has hosted a continuous series of Allied fighter detachments; especially during the busy times around the handover/takeovers our Estonian friends have proven their ability to provide first-rate support to the Allied mission,” he concluded. "With today’s ceremony we deliver an important message: the mission continues. This is especially poignant because we also celebrate today, NATO Day, the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949 and we are receiving our 31st member – Finland – on this very day,” concluded General Raddatz.

Germany has deployed their fighter jets to Estonia ten times – once every year since Ämari was stood up as a second NATO base for Baltic Air Policing in 2014. Meanwhile, this is the fourth time United Kingdom flies their Typhoons out of Ämari after 2015, 2016 and 2019. Like all the other Allies that have deployed to safeguard the Baltic airspace, this underscores the Alliance‘s enduring cohesion and solidarity and is commitment to collective deterrence and defence.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

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