F-15 Eagles deploy to Estonia for exercise with regional partners
By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 17, 2016
RAF LAKENHEATH, England — Sixteen Air Force F-15C Eagles have deployed to Amari air base in Estonia for training exercises with air forces from Estonia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the Air Force said Wednesday.
The deployment, from Aug. 15 to Sept. 2, 2016, includes 12 F-15s from the 493rd Fighter Squadron and four from the 194th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, along with about 300 personnel.
“We’ve combined our forces here to get 16 F-15C Eagles on the ramp as a part of Operation Atlantic Resolve in order to help reassure our allies and NATO partners while at the same time providing us with a unique training opportunity,” Lt. Col. Jason Zumwalt, commander of the 493rd Fighter Squadron, said.
Operation Atlantic Resolve aims to enhance the defense capabilities of allies and partner nations in eastern Europe in the wake of Russia’s interventions in Ukraine in 2014. The United States began increasing its deployment rotations and training exercises in the region after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine in February of that year.
The exercise comes after a series of complaints by the U.S. and other NATO nations to Moscow about incidents in which Russian warplanes and ships have come very close to foreign vessels and aircraft.
“The big takeaway is learning how we work together to maximize our capabilities with our NATO partners — both the strengths and weaknesses of what each country brings to the fight — and how we can effectively work together in a real-time scenario based on our training here,” said Capt. Jason Ford, a pilot from the 493rd Fighter Squadron.