U.S. has just deployed 14 F-16s to Estonia

31st Fighter Wing F-16s have deployed to Estonia, to participate in bilateral training with the Estonian air force.

On Mar. 20, 14 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, with the 510th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Wing, from Aviano Air Base, Italy, have deployed to Ämari Air Base, in Estonia, to take part in bilateral training with the local Air Force and perform simultaneous, unrelated training with the Finnish and Swedish air forces in their airspace.

F-16 AV refuel over Estonia 2

The aircraft will remain in northern Europe through April 17, and will conduct training on the Tapa Range with F-16 performing the Forward Air Controller (Airborne) role with Estonian JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).

F-16 AV refuel over Estonia 3

The purpose of the deployment is to enhance interoperability with a NATO ally and with other regional air arms however, the deployment is above all, another step in the U.S. Air Force’s “Forward-Ready-Now!” posture in the European theater where the Pentagon has already strengthened its presence with the deployment of the first TSP (Theater Security Package) and the A-10 Warthog attack planes from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, to Spangdahlem, in Germany, and RAF Lakenheath, in the UK.

The images in this post were taken over Estonia, from a KC-135 during an air-to-air refueling mission.

F-16 AV refuel over Estonia 4

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Great photos!

    On an unrelated note: Just watched this North Korean-produce video of Kim Jong Un guiding an Air Force exercise. While the majority of the video is devoted to the North’s relatively modern Mig-29, Mig-23 and Su-25 aircraft, from 4:48 to 6:07 a pair of Mig-15’s (!) and their female pilots are prominently featured.

  2. Is it just me, or does the fella is the back seat of the foreground F-16 appear to only be wearing a headset?

  3. Waste of resources just to put on a show. I don’t think we are scaring anybody and if shit really goes down are we gonna fight another war. Will we support them like the French colonies in Vietnam. We lost that war, but we sure killed a lot of them. OORAH

  4. I can’t say when, but I (my unit) will soon by there. Should be fun to be on Comrade Putin’s doorstep. Also I want a MIG part. They have tons of old MIGs and SU’s on the Estonian bases.

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