Estonia has received the first of two former US Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) C-145A tactical transport aircraft to replace its two Soviet-era Antonov An-2 'Colt' platforms.
The US Embassy in Tallinn announced the arrival of the first twin-turboprops in mid-March, saying that the second aircraft would be delivered "in the summer". A welcome ceremony for the aircraft was attended by Estonia's Minister of Defense Jüri Luik.
The aircraft were approved in Estonia's defence development plan for 2020-23 and will be located at the air force's only base at Ämari.
The Estonian Air Force fields two An-2 aircraft, which were due to be replaced in 2015 with two Shorts C-23 Sherpas to be donated by the US. However, this plan was not seen through and the C-145As were offered instead. Although no reason was given for the change from the C-23 to the C-145A, Jane's was told in 2014 that the Estonian Air Force was concerned that the Sherpa might not have the extreme short take-off and landing (STOL) capability of the An-2, which requires less than 200 m to land and depart, and so the service would lose some of its special forces and surveillance/intelligence gathering competence. By contrast, the C-145A has excellent STOL characteristics, which, when coupled with the rear-ramp that is not a feature on the An-2, make for a potent special mission platform.
Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at ihsmarkit.com/janes