Two F-35 Lightning II fighters of the Italian air force flew over Estonian cities on Friday in honor of the Baltic country’s Restoration of Independence Day, the Estonian air force said.
Estonia celebrates the 30th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union on Friday. On September 17, 1991, Estonia became a member of the United Nations.
“On Friday, F-35 fighters of the Italian air force flew over the cities of Tallinn, Rapla, Rakvere, Kohtla-Jarve, Johvi, Tartu, Viljandi, Parnu, Kuressaare and Haapsalu at an altitude of not less than 1,000 feet, that is, just above 300 meters, in honor of Restoration of Independence Day,” a statement read.
Because Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have no suitable fighter jets to guard their airspace, NATO in 2004 launched the Baltic Air Policing mission, under which allies regularly send forces in rotation to patrol the airspace of the three Baltic countries.
A contingent of the Italian air force with American fifth-generation F-35 Lightning fighters began policing the Baltic airspace in early May. They are stationed at Amari Air Base near the Estonian capital of Tallinn.