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The Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
(Estonian: Eesti Õhuvägi,  listen (help·info)) is the aviation branch of the Estonian Defence Forces. The air force traces its history to 1918, and was re-established in its current form in 1991. As of 2016, the Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
has a strength of 300 personnel. It operates unarmed aircraft and several radar systems. Its main tasks are to provide surveillance of Estonian air space and support the country's ground forces. In addition, the air force hosts units from other NATO
NATO
countries at its single operational air base.

Contents

1 History

1.1 1918–1940 1.2 1991–present

2 Organization

2.1 Structure and units 2.2 Ranks and insignia

3 Equipment

3.1 Radars

4 Aircraft

4.1 Current inventory

5 See also 6 Notes 7 References

7.1 Bibliography

8 External links

History[edit] 1918–1940[edit]

Estonian B.E.2 in the Estonian War of Liberation

The roots of the current organization go back to the Russian revolution of February 1917, after which the Estonian state obtained a degree of autonomy within Russia, which included the establishment of national armed forces. Thus many Estonians
Estonians
in the Russian Army returned home to take up arms for their homeland. The Estonian Declaration of Independence in early 1918 was not recognized by Germany, which invaded and occupied the country during 1918. The Estonian armed forces were disbanded. After the armistice on 11 November 1918, the Estonian Provisional Government immediately set about establishing a military aviation unit. On 21 November 1918 Voldemar Victor Riiberg, the Commander of the Engineering Battalion, assigned August Roos to organize a flight unit. The Aviation
Aviation
Company of the Engineer Battalion began to establish air bases near Tallinn
Tallinn
for seaplanes and land planes, but it was not until January 1919 that the first operational aircraft was acquired – a captured Soviet Farman F.30. In the meantime, on 22 November 1918, the Soviet Red Army
Red Army
had attacked Estonia
Estonia
and soon occupied most of the country. The fledgling Estonian Army, with foreign assistance, managed to counter-attack in early January 1919 and went on to liberate the country by late February. It subsequently moved on to liberate Latvia. Aviation
Aviation
Company aircraft flew a limited number of missions in support of the army. Following the February 1920 peace treaty with the Soviet Russia, the Estonian Army
Army
was demobilized, but the Aviation
Aviation
Company was retained. With the delivery of more aircraft, it was reorganized as an Aviation
Aviation
Regiment (Lennuväe rügement), comprising a landplane squadron, seaplane squadron, flying school and workshops. More bases and seaplane stations were built.

An Estonian Avro Anson
Avro Anson
in the late 1930s

Some Aviation
Aviation
Regiment pilots were involved in a pro-Soviet coup attempt on 1 December 1924, but this was crushed within hours. From 1925 the First World War era aircraft were gradually replaced by more modern types. During 1928 the Aviation
Aviation
Regiment came under the control of an Air Defence (Õhukaitse) organization which included the Anti-Aircraft Artillery. In 1939 the Estonian Air force
Air force
consisted of about 80 active airplanes (Bristol Bulldog, Hawker Hart
Hawker Hart
and Potez 25
Potez 25
biplanes from the 1920s, but also the more modern Avro Anson
Avro Anson
multipurpose aircraft and Vickers Wellesley bombers[citation needed]) in three groups stationed at Rakvere, Tartu, and Tallinn. The Navy also maintained two multipurpose aircraft wings.[1] Plans to acquire Spitfires and Lysanders from Britain were thwarted when the outbreak of World War II in 1939 forced Britain to cancel all export orders. After the defeat of Poland, Estonia
Estonia
was forced to accept a Mutual Assistance Pact with the Soviet Union, signed on 28 September 1939. This allowed the Russians to establish military bases in Estonia, which were later used in the Winter War
Winter War
against Finland. On 17 June 1940 the three Baltic States were invaded by Soviet forces. During the June 1940 invasion the Air Defence took no action and subsequently aircraft remained locked in their hangars. The air force became the Aircraft Squadron of the 22nd Territorial Corps of the Soviet Army
Army
in the summer of 1940. 1991–present[edit]

An Estonian Aero L-39C Albatros in flight

The Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
was re-established on 16 December 1991 after the restoration of independence of the Republic of Estonia
Estonia
in 1991.[2] The Air Force was slow to reform because the Soviets had damaged or destroyed most of their infrastructure before leaving.[citation needed] The Air Force Command and Control Headquarters was formed in Tallinn on 13 April 1994.[3] In February 1993 the German government donated two Let L-410UVPs transport aircraft. In October 1994 three Mi-2 helicopters were delivered, followed by four Mi-8s in November 1995. Initially tasked with ground based air surveillance and air defence using only old Soviet radars and AAA equipment, on 15 May 1997 the Air Force moved into the former Soviet Su-24 base at Ämari, south of Tallinn. In 1997–98 two of the Mi-8's were upgraded. The Õhuvägi has been rebuilding the military infrastructure left by the Soviet military. Most of the funds have been directed to the Ämari military airfield which was completed in 2011.[4] The objective of developing Ämari Air Base
Ämari Air Base
is to cooperate with NATO
NATO
and partner nations air forces and being able to supply standardized airfield and aircraft services necessary for Host Nation Support. Due to the lack of modern and developed military aviation infrastructure, the Air Force development has been very slow. Organization[edit] One of the main goals of the Air Force is to build up an air surveillance system, which will be the cornerstone of the air traffic safety and airspace control. The second priority is the development of the Host Nation Support capabilities for air operations with further implementation of crucial peacetime Air Defence capability – Air Policing. One important milestone will be the development of the air surveillance system to the level, which allows close cooperation with the NATO
NATO
air defence system. The purpose of Ämari Air Base
Ämari Air Base
is to work together with NATO
NATO
and partner nations air forces and provide the standardized airfield and aircraft services to provide the Host Nation Services. Structure and units[edit]

Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
Headquarters

The Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
Headquarters is highest command of the Estonian Air Forces and represents the military concept-developing, command and executive structure providing Air Forces peacetime, crisis and wartime leadership in order to reach, maintain and increase, as required, the operational level of the military subordinated structures so that to be able to operate under authorized commands responsible for military operations planning and conduct.[5]

Air Surveillance Wing

The Air Surveillance Wing (ASW) is responsible for developing and operating systems to monitor all movements in Estonian air space. It also contributes to controlling NATO
NATO
aircraft conducting Baltic Air Policing flights. The wing is headquartered at Ämari Air Base.[3] Estonia's military radars and other sensors are integrated into the NATO
NATO
Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. As well as providing data for this system, Estonian personnel serve in various NATO surveillance command and control facilities.[3]

Ämari Air Base

Although the Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
inherited a large number of former Soviet Air Force airfields in 1991 during the restoration of independence, most of them were disbanded within the early 90s due to non-existing need for such airfields. The Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
has one active main air base in Ämari and occasionally uses a civilian airfield in Tallinn. The base houses the Base Operation Centre, Base Defence Operations Centre, a flight group, the Airfield Operations Group, Air Force Support Group and the Air Force Training Centre. Ranks and insignia[edit] Main article: Estonian military ranks and insignia Equipment[edit] Main article: List of historic Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
aircraft

A Giraffe AMB radar on display at the Paris Air Show
Paris Air Show
2007

The modern Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
has been rebuilding the destroyed military infrastructure since 1994 when the last Russian Army
Army
units left Estonia. Most of the funds were directed to the Ämari military airfield which was completed in 2011. Due to the lack of modern and developed military aviation infrastructure the Estonian Air Force's development has been very slow. All aircraft are unarmed. In addition to upgrading and modernizing Ämari military airfield, the Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
has embarked on an extensive program to upgrade and modernize airspace surveillance, making a number of significant purchases in recent years. The aim is to fully integrate with the NATO Integrated Air Defense System providing airspace surveillance with full national radar coverage and real-time reporting for the NATO Baltic Air Policing
Baltic Air Policing
mission. Radars[edit]

Model Origin Type Number Notes

AN/TPS-77 USA Passive electronically scanned array 1 Purchased in 2003. Placed at Kellavere.[6][7] Modernized in 2014.[8]

VERA-E Czech Republic Passive radar

Purchased in 2004.[6][7]

Ground Master 403 France Active electronically scanned array 2 Purchased in 2009.[6][7] Mounted on Sisu E13TP
Sisu E13TP
trucks.[9]

GCA-2020 USA Precision approach radar 1 Transportable version ordered in 2013. Used at Ämari Air Base.[8]

Aircraft[edit] Main article: List of historic Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
aircraft The modern Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
has been rebuilding the destroyed military infrastructure since 1994 when the last Russian Army
Army
units left Estonia. Most of the funds were directed to the Ämari military airfield which was completed in 2011. Due to the lack of modern and developed military aviation infrastructure the Estonian Air Force development has been very slow. With the completion of Ämari military airfield and upgrading of the radar and computer systems within the Estonian Air Survelliance Wing, more attention can now be given to acquiring airframes. As evidence of this progress, two old Antonov An-2 biplane transports will be replaced in 2018 with more modern Skytruck airplanes equipped with western engines and avionics. All aircraft are unarmed. Current inventory[edit]

PZL M28 Skytruck, known as the C-145 in US service. Shown here a unit of the USAF Reserve Command 711th Special
Special
Operations Squadron. Two Skytrucks to be transferred to Estonian Air Force
Estonian Air Force
from the USAF in 2018.

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes

Transport

M28 Skytruck Poland transport

2 on order[10]

Trainer Aircraft

Aero L-39 Czech Republic jet trainer

2[11]

Helicopters

Robinson R44 United States trainer / patrol

4[11]

See also[edit]

Police and Border Guard Aviation
Aviation
Group

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

^ Schnitzler, R.; Feuchter, G.W.; Schulz, R., eds. (1939). Handbuch der Luftwaffe [ Aviation
Aviation
Manual] (in German) (3rd ed.). Munich and Berlin: J. F. Lehmanns Verlag. p. 65.  ^ "Air Force". Estonian Defence Forces. Retrieved 5 March 2016.  ^ a b c Schrik 2016, p. 61. ^ (in Estonian) "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009.  NATO
NATO
investeeringud ^ Eesti Õhuvägi – Õhuväe Staap, General Staff of EDF. ^ a b c d " NATO
NATO
silmamunad Eestimaa kohal". www.tehnikamaailm.ee (in Estonian). Retrieved 2018-01-22.  ^ a b c d "Mobiilsed radarid aitavad ennetada üllatusi". www.postimees.ee (in Estonian). Retrieved 2018-01-22.  ^ a b c "Kaitseministeeriumi majandusaasta aruanne" (PDF). www.kmin.ee (in Estonian). Retrieved 2018-01-31.  ^ "1st Armoured SISU 8x8 military truck delivery to Estonia". www.asdnews.com. Retrieved 2018-01-22.  ^ " Estonia
Estonia
to replace Soviet-era An-2 aircraft". janes.com. 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.  ^ a b "World Air Forces 2018". Flightglobal Insight. 2018. Retrieved 14 January 2018.  ^ "World Air Forces 2015 pg. 11". Flightglobal Insight. 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2014.  ^ "Eesti õhuvägi sai kaks uut õppehävitajat". www.postimees.ee (in Estonian). Retrieved 2018-01-27.  ^ "Õhuvägi saab kingiks neli USA väikekopterit". www.postimees.ee (in Estonian). Retrieved 2018-01-27. 

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Bibliography[edit]

Gerdessen, Frederik "Estonian Air Power 1918 – 1945". Air Enthusiast No 18, April – July 1982. Pages 61–76. ISSN 0143-5450. Humberstone, Richard. Estonian Air Force, 1918–1940 (Insignia Air Force Special
Special
No.3). London: Blue Rider Publishing, 1999. Gerdessen, Frederik; Kitvel, Toivo and Tilk, Johannes. "Aeg, mehed, lennukid" Tallinn: Eesti Entsüklopeediakirjastus 2001 Kitvel, Toivo and Tilk, Johannes ""Eesti lennukroonika: tekste ja pilte aastani 1940" Tallinn: Aviopol 2003 Schrik, Cristian (2016). "On the Front Line". Air Forces Monthly (234): 60–63.  World aircraft information files Brightstar publishing file 329 sheet 9

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Air force
Air force
of Estonia.

The official webpage of the Estonian Air Force

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