Spain's military presence in Estonia very welcome
Spanish Defense Minister María Margarita Robles Fernández, who visited Ämari Air Base, stressed the need to continue to support Ukraine and show Russia that NATO is still united.
Spain's military presence in Estonia currently includes both air policing, with the Spanish air force, flying from Ämari base, and air defense, thanks to the Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) unit also based in-country, Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur says.
Minister of Defense Pevkur said: «We are very happy about Spain's recent decision to extend the NASAMS rotation in Estonia, while Spain is also helping to guarantee the security of Baltic airspace, via the NATO air policing mission, here in Ämari.»
The minister was visiting Ämari air base Wednesday, where he hosted his Spanish counterpart, Margarita Robles.
The two ministers had agreed to the NASAMS deployment extension on the sidelines of the EU defense ministers' meeting in Toledo, Spain, late last month.
The NASAMS contingent numbers around 100 personnel, who also took part in the annual large-scale Spring Storm (Kevadtorm) exercise this year.
Spain took over the Baltic air security baton from Britain's RAF at the start of August and will be here to the start of December.
This is the third time Spanish Eurofighter Typhoons have been based at Ämari.
Pevkur added that meet had provided «a good opportunity to discuss with Defense Minister Robles how jointly to implement the regional defense plans approved in Vilnius with the allies, and to ensure the effectiveness of the defense readiness of NATO and the EU.»
«We have to fill the defense plans with force and capability, in order to actually implement them,» he added.
The two ministers at their meeting also talked about Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine, agreeing that a critical period in relation to Ukraine's counter-offensive has been entered, hence the need for allies to immediately increase military aid to that country.
Estonian MOD honors Spanish air defense unit with mission medals
At Ämari Air Base, Undersecretary for Defense Planning at the Estonian Ministry of Defense Tiina Uudeberg awarded mission medals to the members of the Spanish NASAMS (National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System) medium-range air defense system unit.
«Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has demonstrated the importance of air defense and air superiority. It grants freedom to maneuver on both land and sea. The decision taken at the NATO Vilnius Summit to further enhance NATO's air and missile defense with a new rotational air defense model is therefore especially welcome. This will allow fighter aircraft and air defense systems to practice a rapid transition from air deterrence to air-defense on NATO's eastern flank,» said Uudeberg in her speech.
The Spanish NASAMS contingent arrived in Estonia in April this year on the orders of the NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, similar to the unit in Latvia, and as part of NATO's Integrated Air and Missile Defense along the eastern flank.
On August 29, on the margins the EU defense ministers' meeting in Toledo, Spanish Minister of Defense Margarita Robles and Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) announced that Spain will extend the rotation of the NASAMS air defense systems in Estonia.
From August 1 to December 1, Spain will also contribute to the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission for the third time in the form of Eurofighters, which are stationed at Ämari Air Base.
Spanish air defenses to remain in Estonia longer
Spain's Minister of Defense Margarita Robles and her Estonian counterpart Hanno Pevkur agreed at an EU defense ministerial that Spain will extend the Estonian stay of its NASAMS medium-range air defense systems.
«We are very grateful to Spain for their dedication to strengthening NATO deterrence and defense posture in Estonia – this stands for both the NASAMS air defense unit and the Air Policing rotation at Ämari. I was very glad to learn they are willing to extend the NASAMS deployment in Estonia as it has already proved a valuable opportunity for cooperation for our armed forces,» Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said.
Robles is set to visit Spanish units stationed in Estonia next week.
«Together with Latvia, we are set to sign our mutual medium-range air defenses procurement with German defense contractor Diehl in September. However, the Spanish unit's say in Estonia has given our ground and air forces the chance to study tactical command of medium-range air defense systems,» Pevkur explained.
A Spanish NASAMS unit was stationed in Estonia in April of this year on the order of the NATO supreme allied commander Europe as part of NATO's eastern flank air and missile defenses. NATO heads of state decided to create a new rotational air defense model similar to the Air Policing Mission for the eastern flank at the Vilnius summit.