BALTOPS 2016 gets underway

Ships and aircraft from 17 countries are taking part in Baltic Sea naval drills as part of exercise BALTOPS which started on Friday, June 3 and runs until June 20.

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.

The exercise features anti-submarine warfare, air defence, intercepting suspect vessels and amphibious landings.

Fourteen NATO Allies are joined this year by NATO partners Finland, Georgia and Sweden. Overall, 5,600 troops are 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 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 June 9-19.