On 12 February 1942 ‘Sonderstaffel Buschmann’ was established as an Estonian manned coastal patrol unit operating in co-operation with German forces. The unit rapidly expanded to 40-50 aircraft and some 200 personnel. During 1943 it was redesignated Aufklärungsgruppe 127 (AGr 127) and became a regular Luftwaffe unit. On 18 October 1943 AGr 127 was split into See-Aufklärungsgruppe 127 and Nachtschlachtgruppe 11. Early in 1944, the approach of the re-invigorated Soviet Army led to renewed fears of Soviet occupation. Thousands of Estonians volunteered to fight alongside the Germans, but during September 1944 the Red Army occupied the country.
During the subsequent Soviet occupation, Estonia became heavily militarised, with some 10% of the population being Soviet troops based at over 500 military installations.
The current Estonian Air Force (Eesti Õhuvägi) was first formed on 13 April 1994. Initially tasked with air defence using old Soviet radars and anti-aircraft guns. On 15 May 1997 the first air base was opened, allowing the operation of a small fleet of ex-Soviet DOSAAF lightplanes and helicopters.