U.S. Air Force Deploys MQ-9 Reaper Drones to Estonia for First Time

U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drones from 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group Detachment 2 at Miroslawiec Air Base in Poland were deployed to Amari Air Base, Estonia for the first time in history, on June 14.

According to a statement from the Air Force, the purpose of the deployment is to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions within the European theater, and is made possible through the utilization of Amari AB.

One of the aircraft was transported via cargo truck from Miroslawiec AB to Amari AB, where it was then offloaded and assembled in a hangar with the help of the Estonian Air Force. Members of Detachment 2 in Poland are on temporary duty assignments to Estonia to facilitate the movement of the Reapers and have also built partnerships with the Estonian nationals.

The Reapers are temporarily moving from Miroslawiec while the base’s runway is under construction. The 52nd EOG Det.2, geographically separated from 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, have been operating out of Poland since May 2018.

A contractor-operated MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft taxis toward the runway shortly after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland, March 1, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Preston Cherry)

“We are specifically focusing on air, maritime, and land domain,” said Brig. Gen. Jason Hinds, Deputy Director of Operations, Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration and the United States Air Forces in Europe and United States Air Forces Africa Air Operations Center Director. “We are gathering requirements from the U.S. European Command and our NATO allies, and then we are going to execute those taskings in coordination with the Estonian Air Force.”

“We’ve seen a drastic increase in partnership by working everyday alongside the Estonian air force whether it’s via communications, medical cooperation, operations, or launch, recovery and logistics support,” said Master Sgt. Robert DeGrasse, 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group, Detachment 2 superintendent. “Thanks to our partnership we’ve developed, the 52nd EOG was able to land the first ever MQ-9 aircraft in Estonia.”

Throughout the length of the deployment, the aircraft will be performing ISR missions in support of NATO until they return to Poland. The Estonian Air Force has made the operation at Amari possible through offering their assets to complete the mission.

“We are the first American contingent to operate out of their hangar and operations building,” said Lt. Col. Clayton Sanders, 52 Operations Group Detachment 2 commander. “The Estonians have done everything they can to help us work out the kinks to operate out of both buildings, and that is where we have seen the increase in partnership.”

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