U.S., Estonia host European Partnership Flight Event

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Michael Battles
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

Service members from the U.S. military and six allied and partner nations came together for a European Partnership Flight event, the Baltic Radar and Sensor Visibility and Integration Workshop co-hosted by  U.S. Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa and the Estonian Ministry of Defence in Tallinn, Estonia, Sept. 13-17, 2021.

This week-long event brought together representatives from U.S. European Command, U.S. Naval Forces Europe – Africa, and USAFE, along with allies and partners from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland and Sweden to discuss the way-ahead in support of the radar and sensor visibility and integration efforts across the Baltic Region. 

“The EPF is our chance to synchronize with our partners about our shared vision for theater operations,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Victoria Habas, 603rd Air Operations Center deputy commander. “This kind of in-person event has been sorely missed over the last couple of years while travel was constrained. We make great gains in trust and confidence amongst each other when we have a chance to hear questions, address concerns, brainstorm and even socialize with one another.” 

According to Habas, we wouldn’t be able to obtain our goal of developing an enduring C2 mission partner environment in support of air domain awareness and integrated air and missile defense (IAMD) without our partners.

“Our partners possess outstanding capability in both their equipment and their people,” Habas said. “In order to be successful in a future fight, we have to be able to bring those capabilities to bear seamlessly with our own.”

The workshop focused on the tasks required to fuse data from organic radars to create an enduring and integrated air picture across the Baltic Region, and was in support of a Significant Security Cooperation Initiative to develop a robust C2 network that supports NATO and allied forces.   

“The [EPF] event for Baltic Radar and Sensor Visibility and Integration Workshop had very practical and well-aimed goals,” said Lt. Col. Kristo Lipasaar, Chief of A3/7 Estonian Air Force Headquarters. “This particular event in Estonia enabled for all involved parties to establish common understanding of the initiative, and to set milestones for the way ahead.”

Lipasaar continued by stating, “The end state of the initiative would enable much improved tactical data link coverage over the region, joint information sharing, redundancy of the situational awareness, and permanently available AirC2 with USAFE.”

According to U.S. Navy Cmdr. Micah Murphy, U.S. European Command J5 Strategy Division, the EPF is an opportunity to connect with regional partners about different topics of interest such as IAMD.

“[IAMD] is a complex and complicated challenge,” said Murphy. “There is no monopoly on good ideas and often the best ideas can come from those closest to the problem. Our partners provided some great insights into some of their specific challenges as well as ideas on how we can better work together.”

U.S. Forces in Europe will use the results of the workshop to prepare its personnel and Baltic partners for the next Astral Knight Exercise in 2022 and help attain a more increased Joint All Domain Command and Control awareness.