Evaluation Team Confirm Italian Air Force F-35 Detachment and Estonian Baltic Air Policing Capabilities
Evaluation Team Confirm Italian Air Force F-35 Detachment and Estonian Baltic Air Policing Capabilities

Evaluation Team Confirm Italian F-35 Detachment and Estonian Baltic Air Policing Capabilities

A multinational NATO evaluation team from Allied Air Command conducted a no-notice Tactical Evaluation (TACEVAL) on the Italian Air Force F-35 detachment based in Ämari Air Base, Estonia on August 25. Assessors from Allied Air Command gauged the preparedness and capability of the Italian F-35 detachment and the Estonian Air Force who are their hosts, evaluating their ability to carry out the Baltic Air Policing mission along NATO standards and requirements. The men and women of the Italian detachment who have been deployed for the past three months alongside their Estonian colleagues at Ämari Air Base were given a no-notice evaluation.

“NATO is maintaining the necessary level of preparedness and capability to meet the challenges of a dynamic modern environment. In future, evaluations such as this will be conducted to ensure that NATO is maintaining the necessary level of preparedness and capability to meet the challenges of a dynamic modern environment,” said Lt Col William O’Brien, Allied Air Command Evaluator who led the Tactical Evaluation (TACEVAL) inspection at Ämari Air Base, Estonia.

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NATO evaluators from HQ Allied Air Command assess the F-35 detachments ability to carry out its mission in accordance with NATO standards. Photo courtesy of Italian Air Force
NATO evaluators from HQ Allied Air Command assess the F-35 detachments ability to carry out its mission in accordance with NATO standards. Photo courtesy of Italian Air Force

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has an extensive evaluation programme and, as part of this, Allied Air Command’s Evaluation Division undertakes the TACEVAL sub-programme for Allied air forces on behalf of SHAPE. This wide ranging programme is aimed at improving the integration and effectiveness of the Allied air forces conducting essential Air Policing missions across the NATO area of responsibility. The assessors look to highlight the force’s strengths, identify areas of concern, make appropriate recommendations, and ensures that best practices are shared amongst Allies.

The Baltic air-policing mission is a NATO air defence Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) in order to guard the airspace over the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on a four-month rotational basis, ready to be launched by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany if required. In 2014, after Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, a second Air Policing presence was established at Ämari Air Base, Estonia under NATO’s Assurance Measures to its Eastern Allies. Fighter aircraft assigned to NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission are often launched to visually identify Russian Federation Air Force aircraft.

Evaluation Team Confirm Italian Air Force F-35 Detachment and Estonian Baltic Air Policing Capabilities
The Italian F-35 detachment has been working 24/7 over the past three months securing the skies over the Baltics as part of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission. Photo courtesy of Italian Air Force
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