USAFE MQ-9s Shift to Estonia

U.S. Air Forces in Europe moved its contingent of MQ-9 Reapers northeast to Estonia, where they can keep a closer eye on neighboring Russia.

The contractor-owned, contractor-operated MQ-9s, related personnel, and support equipment moved to Amari Air Base in Estonia from their regular home of Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland, where the runway is under construction, according to a June 15 USAFE release. The aircraft will fly air, land, and maritime awareness flights from their base, using the Reaper’s “inherent multi-role capabilities.”

The MQ-9s, assigned to the 52nd Expeditionary Operations Group Detachment 2, first stood up in May 2018 and have flown regular operations in the Baltics region. The Reapers have also forward deployed to Romania for operations in the Balkans region. In these past deployments, the aircraft were launched and recovered by personnel at the forward location while still controlled in flight at the Polish base.

Detachment commander Lt. Col. Clayton Sanders told Air Force Magazine during a visit last year that the “few” MQ-9s have the agility to move if necessary, allowing USAFE to be flexible and place its surveillance capability wherever needed.

“It’s a small presence, but a big enough presence, that it assures our Polish partners and our Baltic partners of that postured and ready force,” Sanders said.