MONS, Belgium – Exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) led by Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO (STRIKFORNATO) finished its 49th iteration in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.
Held in the Baltic region since 1972, BALTOPS provides the premier maritime-focused training exercise for NATO Allies and Partners. Training events include air defence, anti-submarine warfare, maritime interdiction and mine countermeasure operations to build capable, united forces ready to carry out their core tasks.
The 49th BALTOPS has been an outstanding success, highlighting NATO's agility and interoperability
"The 49th BALTOPS has been an outstanding success, highlighting NATO's agility and interoperability," said General Tim Radford, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe. "The deployment of a force, consisting of over three thousand personnel from 19 nations, was a clear demonstration of the resolve and readiness of NATO to protect the sovereignty of the Baltic nations and the region as a whole."
A Polish air force F-16V Viper approaches a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, to be refueled during Exercise Baltic Operations, over Poland, June 9, 2020. To maintain superiority in a dynamic security environment, BALTOPS demonstrates our focus on lethality, resiliency, and readiness at the high-end of warfighting across all spectrums of conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech.Sgt. Emerson Nuñez)
STRIKFORNATO implemented the latest technology into their Joint Operations Centre to enable command and control of the exercise from their headquarters in Lisbon, Portugal. The new capabilities include recognized maritime picture viewing, air command and control, NATO common operational picture feeds, network integrated real-time information services, logistic functional areas services, video collaboration and information sharing tools, joint targeting systems for operational planning, and a tactical data link to communicate with Allied ships at sea.
U.S. Navy Vice Admiral, Lisa Franchetti, STRIKFORNATO and U.S. 6th Fleet commander said the exercise demonstrates Allies and Partners continuous commitment to the region and reinforces the flexibility of combined NATO maritime forces.
BALTIC SEA (June 16, 2020) Photoex with (left to right) Royal Norwegian Navy HNOMS Otra (M351), Royal Netherlands Navy HNLMS Zierikzee (M862), Royal Netherlands Navy HNLMS Urk (M861), Lithuanian Navy LNS Skalvis (M53), German Navy FGS Donau (A-516), Finnish Navy FNS PurunPAA (41), British Royal Navy HMS Ramsey (M110), German Navy FGS Groemitz (M1064) in the Baltic Sea during BALTOPS 2020, June 16. BALTOPS is the premier annual maritime-focused exercise in the Baltic region, enhancing flexibility and interoperability among allied and partner nations. (Photo courtesy of Standing NATO Maritime Group 1)
BALTOPS, conducted in two phases, builds on basic maritime and air core tasks to improve the effectiveness of operations and build interoperability. The Combat Enhancement Training and Force Integration Training (CET-FIT) phase involved rehearsing common tactics, techniques and procedures under a scripted programme of events, enabling participants to safely operate together as a force. The Tactical Exercise (TACEX) phase gave commanders more freedom to run their own tactical programs and better represent operating in real world conditions.
"This challenging mission serves to demonstrate NATO Allies are united and ready to deter conflict and defend the sovereignty of Baltic nations through sea control and power projection," said Lieutenant General Klaus Habersetzer, Commander of the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Uedem, Germany. The CAOC coordinated air operations of eleven Allies and two Partners during BALTOPS.
Participating nations included Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the U.K., and the U.S.