Polish F-16 Jets deploy for the first time to Estonia to take part in Baltic Exercise

For the first time ever, Polish F-16 jets deployed to Estonia to take part in the third edition of the Ramstein Alloy Exercise.

Ramstein Alloy is a two-day cyclic operation taking place in the Baltic region. The previous editions were hosted by Estonia and Latvia, this time, most of flying took place over Lithuania on Sept. 27-28.

The Polish Air Force took part in the drills with F-16 Block 52+ jets from the 31st AB in Krzesiny, near Poznan which were stationed at the Amari base in Estonia.

Along with the Polish Vipers, French Air Force Mirage 2000 fighters deployed to Siauliai, Lithuania as the lead NATO BAP (Baltic Air Patrol) nation, with German Air Force Eurofighters augmenting the BAP mission from Amari, Estonia, took part in the exercise.

Finland and Sweden, NATO partner nations, were also involved in the exercise as well as Baltic States that also contributed to the exercise: Lithuania, with its C-27J Spartan airlifters, and Latvia, that provided a Mi-17 helicopter to carry out SAR/CSAR operations.

The whole exercise was focused on the air policing/interception sorties, reconnaissance and provision of assistance to civil planes within the scope of emergency situations even though there was space for something more: for instance, the Polish jets were also engaged in CAS (Close Air Support) activities.

Ramstein Alloy was just the latest one of a series of activities and operations involving the Polish F-16s. abroad. Not only have the F-16 been deployed to the Middle East to fight Daesh (in a recce role, the relevant detachment from the Łask AB is stationed in Kuwait), but now they are also being deployed along the whole NATO’s Eastern Flank.

This may be considered as a rebuttal of those rumors suggesting that the Vipers operated by the Polish Air Force are not combat ready.

So far, the Polish Air Force has supported the BAP rotation with the MiG-29 Fulcrum for various reasons: from the assumption that the Fulcrum is less sensitive to FOD, through financial reasons, finishing with ELINT threat posed by the Russians.

Some claims also emerged, suggesting that Polish Vipers may not have had their AIDEWS suites updated hence unable to operate close to the Russian border.

The fact that the Polish F-16 jets have been deployed to Estonia has a double meaning then. First, it puts an end to the rumors regarding the potential lack of readiness of the Polish jets; second, it might be the sign that the Polish Vipers are being prepared to support the Baltic Air Policing operation next year, eventually replacing the old MiG-29 Fulcrums.

Image Credit: Wikimedia


About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.


  1. There is no such thing as an Su-27 series. The correct term would be “Flankers”.

    The latest versions of the Flanker such as the Su-35 and the Su-30SM are very modern aircraft with full glass cockpits, powerful PESA radar, and TVC which make them ultra maneuverable in WVR combat.

    The other two aircraft you mentioned are the MiG-29 (Fulcrum) and the MiG-31 (Foxhound). Both if these fighters are now flying in the Russian Air Force in highly upgraded configurations (MiG-29S, SM, SE, MiG-31BM/SM) with upgraded avionics and weapons.

    Long story short most of the US legacy fighters you’ve mentioned are evenly matched with their Russian counterparts with the two euro canards possibly having an advantage due to slightly more modern design/avionics.

    In real combat the front line Russian and western aircraft are close enough in capability that it would really come down to who had the best trained pilot in the cockpit.

    Do us all a favor and actually take the time in the future to make yourself more knowledgeable before launching into another vapid tirade based on opinions vs. facts.

    • I’ll give a little ground (a little, not much) on the 4th gen, but if Russian fighters faced F-22 or F-35? They’d be blown out of the skies. It would not be a fair fight. If you won’t admit that, then it’s you who needs to gain knowledge.

      BTW – Su-27 (series) is an appropriate way to classify the Flankers. It’s easier than saying Flanker A, Flanker B, Flanker C, etc., and just as valid as saying “Flankers”, which is a NATO designation anyway. Su-27 to Su-35 … they are all variations of the Su-27, hence “Su-27 (series)”.

      Oh, my comments are not “vapid” or “opinion”, just well recognized fact. Western fighters are superior to Russian designs. Russian fighters are at least 2 – 3 decades behind the West, and it’s been that way for a long time. Especially in engine quality/reliability, electronics, and overall quality. That’s why nations with money always turn to the West to outfit their air forces. Poor folks buy MiG and Sukhoi – or Russia simply donates them for free.

      • .. F-22 or F-35? They’d be blown out of the skies. Really? F-22A was shot down several times with German Typhoon and French Rafale during WVR training dogfights.

  2. … but if Russian fighters faced F-22 or F-35? They’d be blown out of the skies.
    F-22A was shot down several times with German Typhoon and French Rafale during training dogfights. The time will show, who is the dominator in te sky, my dear friend…
    One more Russian “Hater”)))
    Though, it’s senselessly to proove you something, if you think so…

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