Two F-22 Raptor tactical stealth fighters of the U.S. Air Force arrived in Estonia on Friday.
Before landing at the Amari air base the fighters performed flyovers for an hour over Estonian cities.
«These planes operate only in very select air bases and today's landing of F-22 is a great acknowledgment to the professionalism of the whole Estonian Air Force with which we assure the 24/7 operation of the Amari air base as well as the surveillance and management ability on a level which is in accordance with the requirements for using the top technology of the strongest air force in the world,» commander of the Estonian Air Force Col. Jaak Tarien said.
Four U.S. F-22 tactical stealth fighters are visiting Europe from the end of August until the middle of September. It is the first visit of these ultra-modern jets to Europe.
The visit shows the contribution of the United States to strengthening the security of Europe and confirms to the allies that the U.S. considers their security important. The jets are to practice cooperation with the allied air forces and to get familiar with the European air space through flyovers, military spokespeople said.
Security adviser to Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas, Kadri Peeters, said on Facebook that it is a strong signal from the U.S. that it is committed to the security of the Baltic region.
The visit of F-22 Raptor tactical stealth fighters of the U.S. Air Force to Estonia sends an important message about the presence of allies to Estonia's aggressive eastern neighbor, Defense Minister Sven Mikser said.
«It is definitely an important event because F-22 fighters are visiting Europe for the first time,» Mikser told BNS. He added that it is definitely an important message that the fighters are visiting Estonia.
According to Mikser the visit is a sign of the allied presence as well as the commitment of the U.S. to defending the security of Estonia and other European allies.
«It is also a huge recognition of the Estonian state, the Estonian Air Force and, more specifically, of the Amari air base. We are ready to and capable of welcoming such aircraft,» Mikser said.
He added that the U.S. presence in Estonia is much more faceted. «The allies are here, training with members of our defence forces and practicing working together,» the minister said.
«This as a whole is the most important message in a situation where our eastern neighbor is still aggressive and is carrying out different unnecessarily aggressive and provocative activities,» Mikser said.