Royal Air Force and German Air Force Typhoon jets will be flying joint air policing missions in Estonia for the first time, as the UK prepares to lead NATO’s mission in Estonia.
The integrated missions will be the first of their kind, with the aim of carrying out full joint and integrated NATO Air Policing missions in the future.
Around 300 RAF personnel from the 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) will soon be in Estonia, as the RAF prepares to take the lead on the long-established NATO air policing mission starting from April.
“Our RAF personnel in Estonia are undertaking a vital role, ensuring the security of Europe’s skies and bolstering NATO’s presence in eastern Europe.” said Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary. “Joint operations of this kind, demonstrate the strength and unity of the NATO Alliance and our shared resolve to maintain peace and security across the region.”
The EAW will be carrying out the NATO Air Policing mission from Estonia. IX Bomber Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth are operating the RAF Typhoons, which have been deployed from Scotland.
“Today marks a great ‘first’ for our two Air Forces. We have been working together for some time and the level of cooperation has now reached a new level,” added Scott Maccoll, Commanding Officer of 140 EAW. “It continues to be an absolute pleasure to work with our German allies on all aspects of our mission – from maintenance and operation of the jets to planning and logistic activities.”
To operate successfully side by side, personnel from the two air forces have trained together to understand each other’s processes including maintenance and operating procedures. Both air forces fly the Eurofighter Typhoon, but there are national differences; this is the first time a joint detachment will fully integrate all aspects of operations.
The air policing mission is part of the UK’s wider NATO commitment in Estonia, alongside the presence of around 1000 British soldiers.
“Working together with our allies from the Royal Air Force in a live mission is what we have been looking forward to since we started this mission. Now we can demonstrate interoperability in these difficult times to protect our Baltic partners and NATO’s eastern flank. The many years of good practice in working together will be the baseline for a successful cooperation,” concluded Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Hachmeister, the German Detachment Commander.