Finnish F/A-18s landed in Amari Air Base, Estonia and took part in large-scale training drills over the Baltic States with up to 20 fighters involved. Allied units based along NATO’s eastern flank including French Rafales, US F-15s, Dutch F-35s, Estonian L-39s and Eurofighters from the joint British and German detachment in Estonia were involved in the exercise. Supported by air-to-air refuelers practiced tactics, techniques and procedures designed to defeat a complex set of potential real-world challenges in a contested air domain.
“This exercise trains for the integration of high-end Allied and Partner capabilities, enhancing our ability to deliver combat air power that is greater than the sum of its parts. Bringing together a 7 nation exercise on this scale, in such a short time frame, is testament to our agility and seamless collaboration” said Wing Commander Scott MacColl, commander of RAF 140 EAW “The ability to cooperate across a multination domain strengthens our collective defence and demonstrates our ability to effectively interoperate in the Baltic region, and across all NATO and future NATO territory.”
The Finnish Air Force participates regularly in exercises and training events with Partners and future Allies. The last time Finnish F/A-18s visited Ämari Air Base was in September 2019 during the Ramstein Alloy 2019-3 exercise. This will be the first visit after the break caused by COVID-19 restrictions.
“The Finnish Air Force works regularly with NATO Partners to enhance our shared security and stability in Europe, this includes exercises and training events in the Baltic Sea Region and High North.” Said Vesa Vasara, Finland’s Ambassador to Estonia. “The training provides a valuable opportunity for units to practice NATO Tactics, Techniques and Procedures and ensure a seamless transition to becoming a member of the NATO Alliance,” he added.
Another aspect to the exercise included the integration of Joint Tactical Attack Controllers from the Allied forces deployed in Estonia. They supported the aircraft providing live targeting information during the mission and increasing Air-Land cooperation.
“There will never be a limit to going for even better NATO-interoperability. Working relations with Estonia and United Kingdom are, of course, tested, tried and true. The participation of Finnish F/A-18s is highly welcome in this phase, offering the opportunity to train in an even more multinational environment with our future NATO ally”, said Annette Klein, German Ambassador to Estonia.
The Finnish Air Force already greatly enhances security and stability in Europe and cooperates closely with the Alliance in exercises and training events in the Baltic Sea Region and High North. Constant training activities like these are performed regularly across the Euro-Atlantic Area improving the overall cohesion of the Alliance and ensuring NATO can cooperate closely with important Partners.