BALTIC MONITOR

Date: 6 November 2018

Ämari base getting stronger thanks to the USA

Ämari Air Base is becoming one of the main NATO military bases in the Baltic states. Every year, Americans channel considerable financial resources into the base located near Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia, within the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI) programme. Thanks to the systematic growth of the potential and development of the infrastructure, the base may serve more and more allied aircraft.

SOURCE: PILDID.MIL.EE

On November 1, Commander of the German Air Forces Ingo Gerhartz paid a visit to Ämari and several days later the PM of Estonia Jüri Ratas joined him. They both met with the German staff currently stationing in the base. Germans come from the unit stationing in the Neuburg Air Base in Bavaria. They took over the duties in Ämari from the French in August. Currently, almost 160 Germans and five Eurofighter aircraft are serving in Estonia. This is the fourth German rotation in the Baltic Air Policing. It is interesting that in January 2019 this rotation will be replaced by the… German rotation as well. For the first time in the history of the Baltic Air Policing, the same country serves two rotations in a row. The Baltic Air Policing mission has started with the acquisition of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia to NATO in 2004. All these small countries do not possess their own aviation, so their airspace is protected by the allies. Aircraft are stationing in two bases: in Lithuanian Šiauliai and Estonian Ämari.

During his visit in the base, PM Ratas talked about new facilities which were funded by the U.S. military programme European Deterrence Initiative (EDI). New hangars, transshipment platforms, barracks and other facilities financed by the USA from EDI were officially opened in Ämari. The value of the investment amounts to almost 13.9 million dollars. During the last four years, Americans invested a total of over 38 million dollars in the base. Now, the base is equipped with the infrastructure which assures the support for the entire air squadron. The issue of the development of Ämari, among others, was touched during talks of the U.S. senators from the delegation, with Senator Richard Burr ahead, which visited Estonia on October 25. The delegation met, among others, with the Minister of Defence Jüri Luik.

The United States has supported the development of the Estonian army since the restoration of independence of Estonia in 1991. But the first significant support happened after the annexation of Ukraine in 2014. Then, Estonia had an opportunity to purchase the Javelin anti-tank missile systems. Americans directly invest in the base in Ämari. They have already paid 40 million dollars for infrastructure, including ammunition depots connected by routes, hangars, etc. The European Deterrence Initiative was established yet during the governance of Barack Obama, soon after the annexation of the Crimea, in June 2014. The aim of the programme is to invest in the U.S. military infrastructure, mainly in the eastern NATO flank. In 2018, 214 million dollars were intended for this aim. American resources were not channelled only to the base in Estonia. Other bases: Lielvarde air base in Latvia (3.85 million dollars), Sanem air base in Luxembourg (67.4 million dollars), Kecskemet air base in Hungary (55.5 million dollars) were supported by the EDI programme this year as well.

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