Alert scramble surprises high-level visit in Ämari

Ämari (Estonia), 6 February 2017

Estonia’s Defence Minister Margus Tsahkna and the commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Riho Terras, paid a visit to Ämari Air Base, where they witnessed an alert scramble of the German contingent participating in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.

Bild vergrößern The Estonian Defence Minister and the commander of the Estonian Defence Forces just wanted to visit Ämari Air Base. But suddenly the loudspeakers blared: “Alpha scramble, alpha scramble, alpha scramble!” This is the alert scramble of the German contingent. Now the visitors had an opportunity to witness a scramble with operational weapons. Within minutes two Eurofighter aircraft left the hangar and took to the skies. Up there, the German pilots had to identify an aircraft in the airspace. In this case, it was a Russian transport aircraft. The pilots escorted the aircraft through the airspace for some time and then returned to base.

Bild vergrößern The German contingent commander, Lieutenant Colonel Uwe Angermeyer, led the Estonian delegation through the building of the German quick reaction alert element. 71 Tactical Air Wing “Richthofen” from Wittmund in East Frisia has been on permanent stand-by since 5 January. The unit consisting of six Eurofighter aircraft provides round the clock security in the Baltic airspace.

“I would be happy if we could continue to count on them.”

The Estonian Defence Minister thanked the German soldiers for their engagement. “I am very pleased to have them here and I would be happy if we could continue to count on them,” he said.

Bild vergrößern The Minister asked the members of the 5th contingent about the conditions they had found in Ämari. “It couldn’t be any better”, said Lieutenant Colonel Angermeyer. “If we could fold up the QRA building we would take it back to Germany with us”, he joked.

Bild vergrößern At the end of his visit, the Defence Minister was shown the cockpit of a Eurofighter aircraft. As a farewell present, he received the current patch of the 5th contingent. The Estonian base commander, Lieutenant Colonal Ülar Löhmus, explained the meaning of the red “R” on the patch.

Bild vergrößern 71 Tactical Air Wing “Richthofen” will continue to safeguard Estonia’s airspace until the end of April.

This is a translation of an article by Marcel Muth published on