Exercise BALTIC OPERATIONS (BALTOPS) is underway in the Baltic Sea region until 16 June. Air, maritime, and ground assets from several NATO Allies and Partner Nations are involved in the live training event that started from Szczecin, Poland and finishes in Kiel, Germany.
“What we want to do is practice and demonstrate the ability to deliver sea control and power projection at and from the sea,” said U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Christopher Grady, Joint Force Maritime Component Commander Europe.
BALTOPS is an annual recurring multinational, maritime-focused exercise designed to provide high end training for the participants. This year, approximately 6,000 servicemembers from 14 countries (Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the United Kingdom, the United States and NATO's Enhanced Opportunities Partners: Finland and Sweden) will participate.
The U.S. Air Force is supporting the exercise with approximately 900 Airmen and 19 aircraft to include: eight F-16s from the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, four KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, U.S. and U.S. Air Force Reserve 459th Air Refueling Wing, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, one Air Force Reserve E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) from the 513th Aerial Control Group, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, B-52 Stratofortresses from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, B-1 Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, and Airmen from the 1st Combat Communication Squadron, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
“This exercise is a great opportunity for the United States, NATO allies and partners to practice air and maritime integration,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Edward Chandler, BALTOPS Air Syndicate Lead.
The exercise, is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, to strengthen combined response capabilities, as well as demonstrate resolve among Allied and Partner Nations' forces to ensure stability within the Baltic Sea region.
“We’ve maintained a consistent level of participation over the last couple of years,” said Grady. “It’s a very large exercise with a lot of moving parts and the participants will provide that realistic and challenging training we’re looking for.”