At 01.00 yesterday, two US F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighters and an accompanying Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker landed at Ämari Air Base.“The visit by the fifth-generation, i.e. most advanced, fighter aircraft to Estonia is a clear sign of the special allied relationship between our countries and the strong presence of the United States in Europe,” said Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna. “We share the same values and we are together ready to defend the territory of NATO member countries from any form of possible aggression. The use of the United States’ newest combat aircraft in Europe ensures the sovereignty of all NATO member countries.” According to Minister of Defence Tsahkna, the landing of the high-tech fighter aircraft at Ämari Air Base demonstrates great recognition of Estonia’s Air Force.
The F-35A type fighter aircraft arrived in Estonia from U.S. Air Force-operated base Lakenheath, located in the United Kingdom; the fighter aircraft are permanently located in the United States, as part of the 34th Fighter Squadron and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The fighters were escorted by a KC-135 from the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England.
“The United States showed that their new fifth generation fighter is ready to protect the skies of the alliance,” said Commander of the Estonian Air Force Colonel Jaak Tarien. According to Tarien, the arrival of the fifth-generation US fighter is given even greater value based on the fact that the F-35 type aircraft had never previously landed outside of a US Air Force base. “This demonstrates the strength of the defence related cooperation between the two countries as well as the level of our Ämari Air Base,” said Tarien.
The F-35 type fighter aircraft arrived in Europe in the middle of April, in order to participate in training exercises along with NATO allies.
The F-35 aircraft is able to operate as a fighter and reconnaissance aircraft as well as a tactical bomber. The F-35 is able to fly at speeds in excess of 1900 km/h; the aircraft’s primary armaments include a GAU-22/A 25mm Gatling-type rotary canon and air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. Two additional missiles or bombs can be attached under the wings.
The maiden flight of the F-35A fighter aircraft took place on 15 December 2006.
Today marked the start of the “Women into Uniform!” campaign by the Ministry of Defence. The goal of the campaign is to inform young women about the opportunity to contribute to national defence and complete conscript service as volunteers.
According to Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna, Estonia’s defence relies on the family model, in which men, women, boys and girls, grandfathers and grandmothers are included. “National defence is universal and I believe that the desire to protect Estonia does not differ between men and women. All members of our society have a very important contribution to make when it comes to ensuring peace and security,” said Minister of Defence Tsahkna. “I am very happy to see that Estonian women wish to contribute to the defence of our country and that this interest has grown over time. I have given the order that women shall have the opportunity to complete conscript service in all military units” added Minister of Defence Tsahkna.
The opening event of the campaign took place today at the Tallinna Spordihall, where women who have completed conscript service and those planning to take that step, women who are public personalities and women who wish to put themselves to the test physically, completed the general physical fitness test of the Defence Forces. This is the same test that must be completed by each servicewoman in order to successfully complete their training. The test is comprised of a 3200 m run, a two-minute push-up test and a two-minute sit-up test. All of those who took the test completed it successfully, which shows that the general physical shape of women meets the requirements for conscript service and women are as equally capable as men when it comes to coping with conscript service.
Within the framework of the campaign “Women into Uniform”, opportunities and the conditions for completing conscript service are introduced to young women in schools, via social media and external media. In Tartu, the female half of the “Kissing Students“ sculpture has been dressed as a conscript, directing the attention of young women to the possibility of contributing to national defence.
Since 2013, women between the ages of 18-27, who are Estonian citizens, have had the opportunity to voluntarily enter conscript service. As of that date, a total of 93 women have entered conscript service, with 41 having completed conscript service and 23 currently completing conscript service.
Men and women have equal opportunities in conscript service to show their strengths and abilities and later make a career in the Defence Forces. When assuming the national defence obligation, one must take into consideration the national defence obligation until the age of 60 (included), including the obligation to appear for reservist training.
Additional information on the opportunities for conscript service can be found here https://www.kra.ee/naisedvormi/
Pictures of the opening event of the campaign: http://pildid.mil.ee/index.php?/category/58070
Tarmo Tamm, the Minister for Rural Affairs, approved the Action Plan for Reduction of Microbial Antibiotic Resistance in Veterinary Medicine 2017–2021. The action plan sets the objective to reduce the use of antibiotics in farmed animals and pets by 30 percent by 2020.
“The spread of microbial resistance is globally becoming one of the greatest threats to human and animal health. To tackle this threat, excessive and improper use of antibiotics in both human and veterinary medicine should be reduced,” Minister for Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm said. “Although the use of antibiotics in livestock farming is not excessive in Estonia compared to other European countries, we still need to work to ensure even more responsible and more focused use of antibiotics.”
In order to limit the spread of antibiotic resistance, it is intended to raise the awareness of veterinarians, animal keepers and medicated feed and food business operators, strengthen surveillance and contribute to research and applied research.
Compared to other countries, antibiotic resistance is currently at a medium level in Estonia, but the statistics of the State Agency of Medicines point to an increasing trend of the total quantities of systemic anti-infectives sold for veterinary use. Studies commissioned by the Ministry of Rural Affairs indicate that the total quantity of active substances sold grew by 1194.8 kg or 15.1% between 2012 and 2013. The overall objective of the action plan is to maintain the current level of quantities sold and to reduce the use of antibiotics, including critical antibiotics in farmed animals and pets by 30 percent by 2020.
“We must ensure that high-quality, safe and effective medicines and medicated feeds are available to animal keepers, and above all that their use is always medically justified, analysed and verifiable. To this end, we intend to strengthen training and information, as well as supervision over the prescription and use of antibiotics,” Tamm added.
The European Commission and the EU Member States have taken vigorous action to limit microbial resistance caused by improper and negligent use of antibiotics. At the ministerial conference that took place in Amsterdam in early February 2016, it was decided that by mid-2017 all the Member States would develop a national action plan to regulate the use of antimicrobial agents and limit the spread of resistance.
The soldiers of the United Kingdom, France, and Denmark raised the national flags during the line-up at Tapa army base today, to mark the start of the service of the NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence battalion battle group in Estonia.
The Estonian Minister of Defence Mr. Margus Tsahkna said in his speech during at the ceremony that Allies’ battle group arrival is the clear assurance that Estonia does not has to stand against the threats alone any more.
“Today’s ceremony symbolises NATO’s resolve and unity. Our Allies’ troops standing here is a powerful signal, that when we say “All for one, one for all”, we mean that. The free world is united, and the values and principles we’re here to defend, are eternal. We know we can count on allies and allies know that they can always count on us. By standing together, we’re strong,” said Tsahkna.
After the ceremony the Estonian Minister of Defence Mr. Margus Tsahkna, Secretary of State for Defence of the UK Sir Michael Fallon, Minister of Defence of Denmark Claus Hjort Frederiksen, and the Ambassador of France to Estonia Mrs. Claudia Delmas-Scherer, signed a declaration about the establishment of an enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia. By the declaration, the NATO battalion battle group will operate in concert with the Estonian Defence Forces as a defensive, but combat capable force.
About 1,200 troops from the UK, France, Denmark, and Estonia participated in the flag-raising ceremony. Also present were the President of Estonia Mrs. Kersti Kaljulaid, the chairman of Riigikogu Mr. Eiki Nestor, the Prime Minister Mr. Jüri Ratas, the Chief of Defence Gen. Riho Terras, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. James Everard, and the Commander of the Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum Gen. Salvatore Farina.
At the Warsaw Summit in July 2016, 28 leaders of NATO Member Nations decided to establish an enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland due to changed security situation. NATO’s battalion battle group in Estonia strengthens the deterrence and collective defence, and also reinforces Estonian self-defence capability.
1200-strong NATO’s battalion battle group is a part of the 1st Estonian Infantry Brigade, stationed in Tapa. The framework nation UK is contributing more than 800 troops, armed with the Challenger 2 tanks, infantry fighting vehicles Warrior, and self-propelled howitzers AS90. France is contributing 300 troops armed with the Leclerc tanks, infantry fighting vehicles VBCI, and armoured vehicles VAB. The French unit will serve in Tapa for eight months, after that it’ll be rotated by the Danish unit.
Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna said at the rafter party celebrating the expansion of the Tapa base that Estonia is able, if necessary, to quickly organise the hosting of allies and the cooperation required between various agencies.
“The development of the Tapa base is recognition that we are capable of quickly reacting and ensuring that allied units arriving in Estonia receive comprehensive support,” said Tsahkna. The Minister of Defence added that the barracks and infrastructure being completed offer Members of the Defence Forces of Estonia as well as our allies the most modern service and living conditions.
According to Tsahkna, the expansion of the base over the last decade has been one of the largest construction projects in the field of defence, which is comparable to the construction of Ämari Air Base in terms of its volume and complexity.
A total of 16 buildings have been completed at the Tapa base, with a combined 37,000 square metres of space. The buildings under construction include Estonia’s largest catering complex, three barracks, six storage and training halls, five covered areas, in addition to service buildings and structures, for example, a substation and car wash, as well as roads and squares. Each set of barracks has 300 beds and 30 workstations; the dining facility is able to provide catering for 3200 people per day.
Estonia’s newest barracks are equipped with modern solutions, in which all accommodation, training work and equipment are located in one building; they are also efficiently built and manageable. Solutions, contemporary utility systems, and the ability to care for corresponding equipment based on the standards of different countries have been thought out in the barracks and repair halls.
The buildings will, for the most part, be completed in August and September, with the final building having to be ready by October. In addition to the buildings under construction, a container city will be completed by April, for use by allied units, in which more than 100 headquarters, medical and support containers will be stored. By this autumn, the Tapa base will be home to a total of eight barracks, of which three are planned for Allied use.
The rafter party is a tradition in which the party who orders the works shows their satisfaction with the work performed so far by the builders and grants that the builder may complete the work. The rafter party organised at the Tapa base marked the construction work reaching a new stage. The Allies were represented at the rafter party by the commander of the contingent, Col. Giles Harris from the United Kingdom, with AS Nordecon management board member Erkki Suurorg, and Keit Paal, Chairman of the Management Board of Merko Ehitus Eesti, speaking on behalf of the builders.
Construction work will continue during 2018, when an additional two barracks, along with support structures for equipment maintenance and training, will be completed at Tapa.
As a result of the developments, the Tapa base, which is home to the 1st Infantry Brigade, is turning into an armoured manoeuvre capability development centre. The Scouts Battalion, comprised of professional servicemen, is in the process of moving to Tapa, and their armaments have begun to be updated with the modern infantry fighting vehicle CV90. Also present at Tapa are NATO battalion battle group units stationed in Estonia. Infrastructure that meets their needs must be created in order to support additional capabilities and units.
Photos of the rafter party