Ohio National Guard News

Theater security package deploys to Estonia

Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing providing F-16s, crews

Story by Maj. Davina Petermann, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa
Video and photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Cody Hendrix,
Regional Media Center Europe and American Forces Network Europe

Pilots walking n front of F-16s.

F-16 pilots from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing walk toward the terminal at Amari Air Base, Estonia, Jan. 14, 2018. The pilots will fly missions in support of Theater Security Package 18.1. This TSP highlights the U.S.’s ability to deploy fighter aircraft in support of its partners and allies in the European theater and around the world. 

Six F-16s lined up with airmen working around them on ground.

F-16s from the from the Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing sit parked on the ramp at Amari Air Base, Estonia.

Airmen unloading plane into carts.

U.S. and Estonian airmen work together to unload supplies from a C-5 Galaxy cargo plane.

Open end of a C-5 Galaxy cargo plane.

U.S. Airmen get ready to receive the supplies from a C-5 Galaxy cargo plane.

Gen. Riho Terras (from left), commander of the Estonian Defence Forces; President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid; Lt. Col. Greg Barasch, 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander; and U.S. Ambassador to Estonia James D. Melville Jr. stand for a photo Jan. 10, 2018, after a luncheon at Amari Air Base, Estonia. They discussed the Ohio Air National Guard’s participation in Theater Security Package 18.1 and the strong U.S.-Estonian alliance.

AMARI AIR BASE, Estonia (01/15/18) — Twelve F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Ohio Air National Guard landed at Amari Air Base, Estonia, Jan. 14 as part of a Theater Security Package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

In addition to 12 Fighting Falcons, the U.S. Air Force deployed nearly 300 Airmen from the 180th Fighter Wing, and about 75 Airmen from the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, as the 112th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron.

“Deploying our F-16s to Estonia shows our ability to fly missions out of different locations around the world,” said Lt. Col. Greg Barasch, 112th EFS commander. “It also increases our capabilities and readiness by flying air-to-air, and air-to-ground missions with our local and regional partners.”

While in theater, the aircraft will forward deploy to multiple locations, participating in exercises and training to highlight the U.S. military’s ability to deploy fighter aircraft to support its allies and partners in the European theater, as well as around the world.

Before the F-16s could fly out of Estonia, there was a lot of planning and preparation that had to take place.

“We’ve been planning with the Estonian air force for several months to ensure seamless flying operations,” said Lt. Col. Brian Hoose, 112th EFS project officer. “They’ve been extremely helpful and there’s been close coordination throughout the entire process.”

The months of hard work and planning resulted in a fully functional forward operating location, allowing F-16s to perform flying operations. The F-16 squadron plans to fly about 60 missions per week, Barasch said.

“This TSP not only provides a deterrent force, but also shows our support and commitment to NATO, our regional allies and our partner nations in this area,” he said.

Col. Riivo Valge, chief of staff of the Estonian air force and acting commander, echoed these sentiments.

“This kind of cooperation shows that we visibly and securely operate together. When the tensions rise even higher we are able to switch to the operational mode without any hesitation,” Valge said. “A Theater Security Package is one of the most visible ways of showing that the U.S. means business, and we are ready to cooperate together with the U.S. forces.”

The Air Force has deployed total force Airmen to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve for more than two years. TSP deployments to Europe vary in length and are supported with total force aircraft and Airmen from stateside units. The TSP is funded by the European Deterrence Initiative, which aims to increase the capability and readiness of U.S. forces, allowing for a faster response in the event of any aggression by a regional adversary against NATO sovereign territory.

  share on facebook