NATO and partner air forces completed two days of exercises in the Baltic region on Wednesday (20 April 2016), practising emergency responses and sharpening their cooperation. Hosted at Ämari Air Base in Estonia, Exercise Ramstein Alloy brought together seven Allies – Estonia, Lithuania, Belgium, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States – with long-standing NATO partners Finland and Sweden.
In one scenario, a Lithuanian transport aircraft simulated losing contact with air traffic control while in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. Two Finnish F-18 jets scrambled to intercept the plane, later handing it over to two Belgian F-16s, which escorted the aircraft safely back to Estonia. Other practice scenarios included search and rescue operations, air-to-air training and refuelling, and diversions to Baltic airfields.
NATO’s Baltic Air Policing assets were actively involved: in addition to the Belgian F-16 jets currently based at Ämari, Spanish Eurofighters flew in from Šiauliai, Lithuania to participate. A NATO E-3A Early Warning and Control aircraft also flew in from Geilenkirchen, Germany, to support the exercise’s media event. The training was overseen by the Control and Reporting Post at Ämari Air Base, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, Germany, and by an airborne United Kingdom E-3D Early Warning and Control aircraft.
NATO’s air policing responds to military and civilian aircraft that approach Alliance borders without prior notification, as well as aircraft not following international flight regulations. This is designed to minimise risks, and ensure the safety and integrity of Allies’ airspace. Since 2004, when Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined NATO, Allies have patrolled the skies over the three nations on a 24/7 basis.
Brigadier General Roberto di Marco, Deputy Commander of NATO’s Deployable Air Command and Control Centre, welcomed the successful conduct of the exercise. “Ramstein Alloy has been another big opportunity to see our Allies and partners cooperate, and to reinforce our visibility here in the Baltic States,” he said.