With BALTOPS 2020, NATO flexes muscle amid COVID-19 pandemic

Following the start of the 49th iteration of the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS 2020) exercise;

Sourabh Banik, Aerospace & Defense Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“According to GlobalData’s report, The Global Naval Vessels and Surface Combatants Market 2020-2030, the cumulative worldwide market for naval vessels is expected to value US$421.1bn between 2020 and 2030, indicating a steady flow of investment towards the procurement of modern naval fleet across the globe. Over the years, NATO and its partner countries have been perfecting their sea-faring skills as well as rapidly upgrading their maritime capabilities. Irrespective of the short-term impacts of COVID-19, this trend of maritime capability build-up is unlikely to change in the long-run. As such, BALTOPS is an important exercise for NATO’s capability demonstrations to the rest of the world, which it have been undertaking in the Baltic region since 1972.

“BALTOPS 2020 will be restricted only at sea and will exclude any amphibious drills to avoid the risk of COVID-19 spreading among the sailors. It will be interesting to see how the sailors will be effectively undertaking these drills while ensuring the social distancing norms. At the end of this exercise, the participating countries are likely to write a new rulebook for conducting joint-maritime operations amid a global pandemic.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the event’s size and scope for this year, it will still have participation of 28 maritime units, 28 aircraft and 3,000 personnel, which is fairly significant given the present situation in the participating countries. NATO’s decision to flex its muscle in the current context is a clear indication of its commitment for maritime security in the Baltic region and to send out a message highlighting its preparedness level even during times of crisis.”

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