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BALTOPS24: MH-60S helicopter leads mine countermeasure exercises in Baltic operations.

According to information published by the US DoD on June 7, 2024, during the ongoing Baltic Operations Exercise (BALTOPS24), a key mine countermeasure exercise was conducted, featuring an MH-60S helicopter equipped with the Airborne Mine Neutralization System. This event showcased the essential role of maritime security operations in the Baltic region.
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An MH-60S helicopter equipped with the Airborne Mine Neutralization System takes part in a mine countermeasure drill during the Baltic Operations Exercise. (Picture source: US DoD)

BALTOPS 2024, running from June 7 to June 20, is the 53rd iteration of NATO's premier maritime exercise in the Baltic Sea. It is notable for its scale and complexity, involving more than 50 ships, 85 aircraft, and approximately 9,000 personnel from 20 NATO member nations. This year’s exercise marks the largest assembly of amphibious and mine-hunting forces in the event’s history​.

The inclusion of Sweden as a full NATO member adds a significant strategic element. Sweden has participated in BALTOPS for over a decade, but its recent accession to NATO alongside Finland underscores the alliance's expanding footprint in the Baltic region. This move is particularly relevant given the ongoing security challenges posed by Russia, which maintains substantial anti-access and area denial capabilities in the Baltic Sea, particularly from the Kaliningrad enclave​​.

Key activities during BALTOPS 2024 include anti-submarine warfare, amphibious operations, mine clearing, medical response drills, and air defense exercises. An interesting aspect of this year's exercise is the participation of naval assets from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

The exercise began with a pre-sail conference in Klaipėda, Lithuania, and will see various phases of training conducted throughout the Baltic Sea. Lithuania plays a host role, with its naval forces actively participating and contributing to the exercise's operational success. The presence of high-ranking officials, including the commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet, Vice Admiral Thomas Ishee, and Lithuania's Chief of Defence, General Valdemaras Rupšys, underscores the significance of this multinational training effort​.

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