The Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Marko Mihkelson said that long-term planning of NATO's Baltic air policing mission so that Ämari Air Base would be regarded as an independent component of the mission, like Šiauliai Air Base, is necessary for better guarding of the Estonian air space. Today the support mission of Šiauliai is located in Ämari.
“It is necessary for us that the air policing mission based in Ämari would be a long-term mission, and Estonia has to do everything to show NATO and its member states that they should make a long-term contribution here,” Mihkelson said.
In Mihkelson’s opinion, the planning of a longer-term air policing mission in Ämari would enable to better organise logistic support to the allies and give a clearer signal of NATO’s intentions in the region.
Mihkelson emphasised that NATO’s air policing mission also has a very important role in ensuring safer civil aviation in the Baltic Sea region. “As Russian military planes often do not use transponders and do not cooperate with the control centres of civil aviation, NATO identification flights are the best way to resist their dangerous activities,” Mihkelson said.
At today’s sitting of the National Defence Committee, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Defence Sven Sakkov and Commander of the Estonian Air Force Colonel Jaak Tarien gave an overview of the current situation and future of NATO’s Baltic air policing mission.
Yesterday the Royal Air Force of United Kingdom, who had been guarding the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian air space for four months, handed over the responsibility to the German Air Force, who will be carrying out the air policing mission from Ämari with four Eurofighter-type aircraft. The rotation of allies has essentially been decided also for the next year.
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