SWANTON, OH (WTOL) - Three hundred Airmen from the 180th Fighter Wing are now in stationed at a U.S. airbase in Estonia.
Along with the 300 Airmen from the 180th, 75 Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing based in Germany and 12 F-16s were also deployed to Estonia as a part of a "Theater Security Package" supporting Operation Atlantic Resolve.
These forces will make up the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.
"Deploying our F-16s to Estonia shows our ability to fly missions out of different locations around the world," Lt. Col. Greg Barasch, 112th EFS commander explained. "It also increases our capabilities and readiness by flying air-to-air, and air-to-ground missions with our local and regional partners."
The Airmen will deploy in multiple locations in Europe to participate in exercises and training. Part of the operation is a show of support for America's European allies.
"We've been planning with the Estonian air force for several months to ensure seamless flying operations," Lt. Col. Brian Hoose, 112th EFS project officer said. "They've been extremely helpful and there's been close coordination throughout the entire process."
The squadron will fly about 60 missions per week.
Col. Riivo Valge, chief of staff of the Estonian air force and acting commander, says the operation is important in showing America's ability to strike a threats to potential common enemies of the U.S. and its allies.
"This kind of cooperation shows that we visibly and securely operate together. When the tensions rise even higher we are able to switch to the operational mode without any hesitation," Col. Valge said. "A Theater Security Package is one of the most visible ways of showing that the U.S. means business, and we are ready to cooperate together with the U.S. forces."
The European Deterrence Initiative helps to fund the Theater Security Package.