The 43rd edition of the multinational maritime exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2015 has started in the Baltic Sea, involving seventeen NATO and partner nations.
The annual exercise aims to improve coordination and cooperation among Baltic Sea countries, while improving flexibility and interoperability. It will also demonstrate the resolve of allied and partner forces to defend the Baltic region.
During the exercise, approximately 5,600 ground, maritime, and air forces will carry out air defence, maritime interdiction, anti-subsurface warfare, and amphibious operations.
NATO striking and support forces commander vice-admiral James Foggo III said: "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."
Participant countries in this year’s exercises include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the US.
The programme will feature 49 ships, 61 aircraft, one submarine, and a combined landing force of 700 Swedish, Finnish, and US troops.
BALTOPS 2015 is scheduled to run until 20 June.
In 2014, countries including the US, UK, Denmark, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, and Sweden were part of the annual exercise.
Image: BALTOPS aims to enhance maritime capabilities and interoperability and to support regional stability. Photo: courtesy of US Navy photo by mass communication specialist 3rd Class Luis R Chavez Jr / Released.