Scores of ships and aircraft from 17 countries are taking part in Baltic Sea naval drills as part of exercise BALTOPS which starts on Friday (5 June 2015) and runs until 20 June. Allied participation demonstrates NATO’s resolve to defend the Baltic region, and will hone the ability of Allies and partners to work together.
The exercise will feature anti-submarine warfare, air defence, intercepting suspect vessels and amphibious landings. A total of 49 ships, 61 aircraft, one submarine, and a combined amphibious landing force of 700 U.S. Finnish and Swedish troops will participate in the drills. Fourteen NATO Allies are joined this year by NATO partners Finland, Georgia and Sweden. Overall, 5,600 troops will be involved.
“This exercise represents an important opportunity for our forces, as allies and partners, to enhance our ability to work together and strengthen capabilities required to maintain regional security,” said Vice Admiral James Foggo III, the Commander of Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO. He added: “this exercise will be conducted in a truly joint environment, and I look forward to working with and learning from so many different nations and services“.
While BALTOPS is a United States-led exercise, Vice Admiral Foggo and his NATO staff are responsible for executing this year’s exercise. Participants include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The annual BALTOPS exercise is not held in response to any specific threat. The exercise has been held since 1971, and is now in its 43rd year. BALTOPS is one of several major multinational exercises this month which also includes exercise Noble Jump – the first deployment test for NATO’s new quick reaction force – which will take place in Poland from 9-19 June.