The Baltic Region Training Event 19 (BRTE 19) focused on training interoperability and cooperation between NATO and Partnership for Peace (PfP). On 30 September and 1 October, ten aircraft from five NATO nations trained together with a total of six fighters from PfP members Finland and Sweden on how to cooperate in different aerial scenarios. The training was supported by a NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane and a US Air Force tanker aircraft.
For six years, this training event has taken place in the Baltic States three times a year. Due to the augmentation of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) forces in spring this year, it was possible during BRTE 19 to draw on more flying assets already deployed in the region to ensure diverse training scenarios.
"The increased number of fighters involved in the BAP offers a huge benefit for our training,” said Major Dimitrios Koukaras, Hellenic Air Force, the project officer for BRTE 19 at NATO’s Air Command in Ramstein, Germany. "This way we can exploit the areas of interoperability and cooperation more deeply. BRTEs are an established series of training events; however, they have nothing to do with the Allied air policing mission in the Baltic region.”
During a media event on 30 September, several journalist had an opportunity to see first-hand what BRTE 19 was about. Besides a static aircraft display at Ämari Air Base, Estonia, the training part included a COMLOSS scenario. An Estonian L-410 transport plane simulated a loss of communications and was intercepted by fighters from PfP member Finland, which in turn handed it over to the German NATO fighters currently flying out of Ämari. For the journalists on board the Estonian L-410 this was a special situation. They witnessed the measures and procedures that have to take place in the air and on the ground to conduct a visual identification of an aircraft. They saw the Finnish fighters flying in, handing over the plane to the German fighters which escorted it back to Ämari for a safe landing.
"It is a major benefit for us that Ämari Air Base is the venue for this established training event for the second time,” said the Colonel Jaak Tarien, the Commander of the Estonian Air Force. "This NATO base hosts BAP assets and is now involved in the two-day BRTE. We are very pleased that we can provide our contribution to both Allied projects as a Host Nation.”
BRTE 19 included these air assets: NATO QRA(I) lead nation Portugal with F-16 fighters as well as augmenting Nations Canada with CF-188s, Germany with Eurofighter aircraft, the Netherlands with F-16 fighters, Host Nation Estonia L-410 and AN-2 transport aircraft and a SAR helicopter as well as F-18 and JAS-39 Gripen fighters from Partnership for Peace (PfP) members Finland and Sweden, respectively. NATO AWACS and a US Air Force KC-135R tanker aircraft from the United Kingdom also flew in support of the training event. Flying missions during the training event were not visible from the ground, as they take place in heights above 20,000 feet or 6,000 m. BRTE 19 command and control was provided by Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Uedem, Germany, Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) Karmelava, Lithuania, Control and Reporting Point (CRP) Ämari, Estonia, and a CRC in Finland as well as civilian Air Traffic Control agencies.