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U.S. and Estonian air force leaders discuss BTF, MQ-9 deployment

Release Number: 010620

Air Force Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa commander, conducted a call with Colonel Rauno Sirk, commander of the Estonian air force, to discuss air operations in Estonia throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the call, the leaders discussed the deployment of MQ-9 aircraft to Estonia and interoperability training conducted between our countries in support of Bomber Task Force Europe. The BTF aircraft conducted training with Estonian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, integrating forces for an Estonian exercise, and the MQ-9 deployment demonstrated tenets of the Agile Combat Employment concept.

“The Estonian air force has been an outstanding partner, and we’ve found ways to continue working and training together despite COVID-19,” said Harrigian. “The bomber missions gave our militaries a unique opportunity to conduct interoperability training throughout the peak of the virus, and the Estonian air force took it one step further by making the MQ-9 deployment a smooth and seamless transition.”

Sirk echoed the importance of working together and learning from each other.

“The Estonian air force highly values the time and effort that USAFE has put into the cooperation with the Estonian air force,” said Sirk. “Despite the difference in the size and strength of our air forces, we do face similar challenges, be it the development and education of an airman, shaping the air force structure or introducing new technology. One of the keys of success of today`s air force is the timely sharing of information, most importantly relevant operational information, and this is where we have put our effort in the cooperation with USAFE for the upcoming year or two.”