Robles visits the Spanish detachments in Estonia and highlights their mission within the NATO framework

News - 2023.9.6

  • x: opens new window
  • Whatsapp: opens new window
  • Linkedin: opens new window
  • Send: opens new window

The air defence battery is integrated into the Alliance's Air Defence System structure, while the squadron of eight Eurofighter combat aircraft from the 11th Air and Space Wing is part of the Baltic Air Policing mission. Both will remain in Estonia until December.

"I want to thank the entire Spanish contingent for their commitment, dedication and professionalism, working perfectly integrated here in Estonia in deterrence. We must not forget that we are close to the Russian border and that the situation in Ukraine continues to be harsh and extremely cruel", said Robles during her visit.

On her arrival at Amari Air Base, Robles was met by the Estonian Minister for Defence, Hanno Pevkur, and by the Spanish ambassador to Estonia, Guillermo Corral Van Damme. There, the acting Minister for Defence highlighted the "extremely important and essential work" of the entire Spanish contingent, which she defined as "one of the best images of the Spain brand".

The acting defence minister held a meeting with her Estonian counterpart in which they discussed the worrying situation in Ukraine and highlighted the unity of the member states of the Alliance as "one of the main elements of deterrence" against Russia.

"The Estonian minister thanked me in particular for the participation of the Spanish military, both for the very high professionalism of the contingent carrying the NASAMS battery and of the Eurofighter pilots", explained Robles, who added that "we are going to continue this collaboration and this joint work, and we have proposed to continue with the aid to Ukraine". Robles recently held another bilateral meeting with her counterpart when he visited Spain for the informal ministerial meeting of EU defence ministers, held in Toledo on 29 and 30 August.

During the visit, the head of the 'Àmbar' contingent, Air and Space Army Lieutenant Colonel Luis Borque, and of the UDAA NASAMS contingent, Army Lieutenant Colonel Sergio García, made presentations to explain the tasks of both contingents, which Robles got to know first-hand, highlighting the "very high qualifications of the Spanish Armed Forces".

Spain, a benchmark in NATO

The minister visited the premises of the GBAD-Task Force-Estonia, responsible for the NASAMS Battery, where Captain Durán explained the operation of this medium-range anti-aircraft system, which is highly effective against fixed wing, rotary wing and missile aircraft and has been in service with the Spanish Army since May 2003.

The acting Minister for Defence also visited the facilities of the 'Quick Reaction Alert', part of the 'Amber' detachment, where Captain Franco explained the mission they carry out in their area of responsibility in the Baltic, which involves the fighters being in flight in less than 15 minutes and ready to intercept unidentified aircraft after issuing an 'alpha scramble' alert. During the first month of the detachment, the aircraft flew more than 280 flight hours and performed ten missions to intercept and identify Russian aircraft.

"You don't know how reassuring your presence is", the minister told the members of the detachment. "All NATO countries want the Spanish military". The acting minister was able to talk with Lieutenant Elena Gutiérrez, the first female pilot of a Eurofighter fighter in Spain, and with Commander Alfredo Jiménez Díaz-Canseco, the first Spanish pilot to reach 2,000 flight hours in a Eurofighter, whom she personally congratulated.

Robles subsequently signed the Books of Honour of the two detachments, noting that their work strengthens "the bonds of union with our NATO allies and above all helps us to live in a safer and better world". She also had a few words for the military and their families, in which she praised the work they do, which, she stressed, "contributes to Spain becoming a point of reference in the NATO framework".

Strengthening security

In the aftermath of the crisis in Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea in November 2013, the Alliance implemented a series of military initiatives aimed at strengthening its security and internal cohesion, which have been reinforced in subsequent years with deployments of forces along NATO's eastern border.

Following the launch of the Russian offensive against Ukraine in February 2022, the Alliance promoted a number of initiatives, including increasing the number of forces at its disposal. In this context, Spain responded with an additional contribution of land, naval and air assets, mainly on the Alliance's eastern flank.

The UDAA NASAMS mission is part of the Alliance's response and reinforcement measures and contributes to NATO's Integrated Air and Missile Defence on the eastern flank. In addition, it has a deployment at the Amari air base to contribute to deterrence.

In addition, since 1 August, a detachment of eight Eurofighters from the 11th Air and Space Wing, with approximately 130 military personnel, has been operating in the northern area of the area of responsibility established by the Alliance. The temporary addition of an A-400 for in-flight refuelling from 15 August has increased the number of military personnel in the DAT to 170.

Non official translation