NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence in Estonia

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on input provided by the Spanish Air Force and Army

Spanish Eurofighters and a Spanish NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) ground-based air defence system at the Estonian Ämari Air Base safeguard the skies in this part of the Baltic Sea region.

 

The 100-strong NASAMS unit was joined last August by eight Spanish Eurofighter jets and 130 personnel deployed at Ämari augmenting NATO’s Air Policing over the Baltic States.

Air Defence, as its name implies, is the act of safeguarding some protected asset or assets—specifically against threats from the air domain. Long neglected in the low-threat air campaigns that dominated the past two decades of combat operations, it is again in the focus of NATO defence planning after Russia’s unprovoked brutal war in Ukraine.

 

Spanish Eurofighters and a Spanish NASAMS (National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) ground-based air defence system at the Estonian Ämari Air Base safeguard the skies in this part of the Baltic Sea region.
A Spanish NASAMS unit has been set up at Ämari in April 2023, providing ground-based air defence capabilities for the base; the unit is part of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence system. Photo by the Spanish Army.

 

Rather than a single weapon or unit, Air Defence is an amalgamation of elements, organized to minimize aerial threats. The Spanish NASAMS unit and the Eurofighter detachment in Ämari, Estonia, both controlled by Allied control and reporting units are a good microcosm example of this principle. While Spanish Eurofighters have been augmenting NATO’s Baltic Air Policing, their colleagues from the Spanish Army employ their NASAMS system to provide ground-based air defence capabilities for the base.

 

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“The deployment of this defensive capability from the southwest of the Alliance to its eastern flank demonstrates the cohesion of NATO allies and the one-for- all, all-for-one principle in NATO,” said Group Captain Michael Carver, acting Deputy Chief of Staff Operations at Allied Air Command, where NATO’s air operations are overseen. “In a truly collective effort, the 31 member nations of the Alliance ensure deterrence and defence keeping populations and territories safe,” he added.

“These defensive capabilities, such as Eurofighter jets, command and control communication systems, and ground-based air defence batteries are purposely organized into what is termed an integrated air defence system (IADS) across all NATO member countries,” Group Captain Carver added. “This approach requires close coordination between air defence missile batteries and fighter jets. The integration of both Spanish assets demonstrates how NATO’s cooperative defence works at the local level. The fact that an Ally from the southwest deploys these capabilities to the northeast of Alliance territory shows cohesion and solidarity among our Allies,” he concluded.

 

Defence

 

“The Spanish Eurofighters here at Ämari have secured the skies with their Italian colleagues from . My pilots have conducted well over a dozen alert scrambles, intercepting RUS military aircraft flying close to NATO airspace,” said Lieutenant Colonel Luis Borque Torres, Commander of the Spanish Eurofighter detachment. “The Spanish NASAMS unit has maintained a surveillance posture at Ämari and we have been involved in several exercises, among the others Spring Storm, Operation Azotize, Angry Flame, including a readiness verification in June 23,” said Lieutenant Colonel Santiago Calleja Blancas, Commanding Officer of the Spanish Army NASAMS battery.

In a nutshell, Integrated Air and Missile Defence in Estonia marries a variety of NATO systems into an efficient defensive enterprise and allows for the three functions of an IADS which are deter – detect – intercept to occur immediately and simultaneously.

 

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