No Baltic Fighter Force

Despite tensions with Russia over its actions in Ukraine, the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are not considering pooling their resources for a fighter consortium similar to the multinational Heavy Airlift Wing that operates at Papa AB, Hungary, Baltic military leaders told Air Force Magazine during visits to Estonia and Latvia. Latvian Defense Chief Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube said in an interview last week procuring, operating, and maintaining F-16s is simply too expensive, even if the three Baltic states pooled their resources. “It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. Estonian air force Commander Col. Jaak Tarien, who was part of a group that studied the idea back in 2009 and 2010, said on June 13 it would cost each nation about a quarter of its defense budget to conduct the air policing mission without any reliance on other NATO partners’ forces. “That would have meant that we can’t afford to send our troops to Afghanistan and to other deployments,” said Tarien. “Too much of our resources would go just toward this peacetime air policing capacity that doesn’t really bring meaningful combat airpower to the table anyway, so it would have been a waste of resource. Our NATO allies and leadership in Brussels recommended that allies continue to contribute aircraft for the policing and our resources go somewhere else,” he said.