Twelve F-16s and about 375 airmen deployed to Amari air base, Estonia, Jan. 14 as a theater security package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
The Fighting Falcons and about 300 airmen are with the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing out of Toledo, according to a Guard news release. The other 75 airmen are with the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Together, they comprise the 112th Expeditionary Fighting Squadron.
The F-16 squadron plans to fly about 60 missions per week, said Lt. Col. Greg Barasch, 112th EFS Commander, and will train alongside its NATO allies. If required, it will respond to regional threats.
“This kind of cooperation shows that we visibly and securely operate together,” Col. Riivo Valge, chief of staff of the Estonian air force and acting commander, said in the release. “When the tensions rise even higher, we are able to switch to the operational mode without any hesitation.”
The theater security package will help strengthen interoperability between NATO allies, and demonstrates the U.S. military’s ability and commitment to sending fighter aircraft to support its allies around the world.
“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,” Barasch said in the news release.
The TSP is funded by the European Deterrence Initiative, a U.S. initiative that aims to increase the capability and readiness of U.S. forces to respond to aggression by a regional adversary against a NATO ally.
The U.S. has been steadily increasing its activity in Europe since Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine.