German support forms a part of the NATO collective defence reassurance, offered to the Baltic states in the light of growing security concerns in eastern Europe. Germany has taken part of the air policing mission six times before, but it is the first time that the German jets will be based at the Ämari Air Base in Estonia.
The Baltic Air Policing mission was established in 2004, to assist Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania who have no airborne air defence capability of their own and was extended indefinitely in February 2012. The aim of the mission is to prevent unauthorised incursion into the airspace of the Baltic states and its most frequent duty is intercepting Russian aircraft and escorting them from the area. To the west of the Baltic states’ airspace is an air corridor often used by aircraft travelling to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad from territorial Russia.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, confirmed in her recent visit to Latvia that the German government understands the security concerns of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians.
“Germany is ready to play its part to fulfil the understandable and warranted need for protection for the people in Latvia and other Baltic states,” Merkel said in Riga.