Twelve F-16 Fighting Falcons aircraft from the 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard landed at Amari Air Base, Estonia, Jan. 14, as part of a Theater Security Package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
In addition to the fighter jets, the U.S. Air Force deployed nearly 300 Airmen from the 180th Fighter Wing and approximately 75 Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, as the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.
“Deploying our F-16s to Estonia shows our ability to fly missions out of different locations around the world,” said Lt. Col. Greg Barasch, 112th EFS commander. “It also increases our capabilities and readiness by flying air-to-air, and air-to-ground missions with our local and regional partners.”
Before the F-16s could fly out of Estonia, there was a lot of planning and preparation that had to take place.
“We’ve been planning with the Estonian Air Force for several months to ensure seamless flying operations,” said Lt. Col. Brian Hoose, 112th EFS project officer. “They’ve been extremely helpful and there’s been close coordination throughout the entire process.”
The months of hard work and planning resulted in a fully functional forward operating location allowing F-16s to perform flying operations.
The F-16 squadron plans to fly approximately 60 missions per week, Barasch said.
“This TSP not only provides a deterrent force, but also shows our support and commitment to NATO, our regional allies and our partner nations in this area,” he said.
Col. Riivo Valge, chief of staff of the Estonian Air Force and acting commander, echoed these sentiments.
“This kind of cooperation shows that we visibly and securely operate together. When the tensions rise even higher we are able to switch to the operational mode without any hesitation,” Valge said.
The Air Force has deployed Airmen to Europe as a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve for more than two years. TSP deployments to Europe vary in length and are supported with total force aircraft and Airmen from stateside units.
According to Barasch, TSPs are just one of the ways the U.S. shows its commitment to NATO allies and sends a clear message that the U.S. is serious about conflict deterrence.
“A Theater Security Package is one of the most visible ways of showing that the U.S. means business, and we are ready to cooperate together with the U.S. forces,” Valge said.