The Õhuvägi celebrates its anniversary with that of the Estonian Navy, which was founded on November 21, 1918, a few months after the country’s declaration of independence.
In the early days, a flight unit was commanded by August Roos and was initially part of the engineering battalion.
The Õhuvägi soon began sourcing their first aircraft, which was decorated with a distinctive blue-black-and-white wraparound (actually a triangle) and continued to grow in the 1920s and 1930s, later merging with the First Republic’s air defense arm.
On the eve of World War II, it consisted of around 80 aircraft, including the Bristol Bulldog and Hawker Hart biplanes, but could not receive more modern equipment before the Soviet occupation ended independence and the invaders established a major air base near what is now the Lasnamäe residential area.
The restoration of independence in 1991 paved the way for a newly established Air Force Command and Control Headquarters in Tallinn, which was established in 1994. The Air Force, like the Navy, is organizationally part of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) as a separate service.
As a small country, but also a NATO member since 2004, the capabilities of the Estonian Air Force are significantly enhanced by the presence of the Alliance’s rotating Baltic Air Police based in Ämari. The Air Force is currently responsible for the mission, and the Air Forces of France, Great Britain, Spain, the Czech Republic and other NATO members have also taken on the coat.
In addition, US Air Force aircraft, including the well-known B-52 strategic bomber, the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, and the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper unmanned Reaper drone, have been frequent visitors to Estonia and the diehuvägi also operates independently Trainer jets, transport planes and helicopters.
ERR News congratulates the Õhuvägi on its 102nd birthday.
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