Ämari, Estonia, 4 May 2017
The German air force has handed over responsibility for Baltic Air Policing to the relief contingent during a formal ceremony held at Ämari. As of May 4, the airspace at NATO’s eastern periphery will be monitored by the Spanish air force. Air Marshal Joachim Wundrak, commander of Air Operations Command, and a large number of international guests were present for the ceremony.
Medals for German personnel
A highlight of the ceremony was the awarding of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission Medal. The medal was presented to a total of 22 members of the seventh and last German contingent to take part here in 2017.
Two terms back to back
There was a new element to Germany’s Baltic Air Policing contribution this time: contingents from the German air force covered two terms back to back, with 74 Tactical Air Wing from Neuburg an der Donau handing over responsibility to 71 Tactical Air Wing Richthofen from Wittmund in January. In total, about 1,000 troops from 45 different units have been deployed to Ämari Air Base since last September. Though most of the troops and civilian staff came from the two tactical air wings, the commitment was nonetheless a forces-wide exercise under realistic operational conditions.
Constantly in the public eye
There have been around 300 aircraft manoeuvres in the course of the last eight months, including 28 alert scrambles. These are actual or practice security flights undertaken by the quick reaction alert element – two fighter jets which are kept on standby 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The German troops and their mission in the Baltic often found themselves the focus of public attention. The Georgian Defence Minister, the Estonian Prime Minister, a camera team from German documentary-makers Galileo and many groups of civilian and military visitors were among those who came seeking more information about the deployment. This is a translation of an article by
Peter Emshoff / Bastian Schlör published on www.luftwaffe.de,
updated to fit this webpage.