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.
A PZL Mielec M28 light transport aircraft on which the C-145A is based. Estonia is to receive two such platforms to replace its Soviet-era An-2 'Colt' aircraft. (IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings)
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,
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.