In a first for a NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission, both the RAF and Luftwaffe (German Air Force) will conduct joint, integrated Air Policing missions over the Baltic region from Ämari Air Base (AB) in Estonia.
Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 fighters from RAF Lossiemouth-based No IX Squadron - a part of No 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) - will firstly take over the mantle from the German contingent from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 71 (TaktLwG 71; Tactical Air Force Wing 71) ‘Richthofen’, which is headquartered at Wittmund AB, at the start of April. Both nations will then conduct joint scrambles, protecting NATO's north-eastern flank.
These integrated missions will be the first of their kind, with the eventual aim of carrying out full joint and integrated NATO Air Policing missions in the future. Commenting on the initiative, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “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.
” Wg Cdr Scott Maccoll, the officer commanding No 140 EAW, said: “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. 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. I would also like to thank our Estonian hosts; they are vital to what we have achieved here. What better way to demonstrate the strength and unity of the NATO Alliance, than through successful, shared operations such as this?”
As part of the UK’s deployment to Estonia - which was established in 2017 under the name ‘Operation Cabrit’ - the UK leads a multinational, combat-ready battlegroup to protect and reaffirm the security of the Alliance’s member states. British units rotate on a continuous basis alongside Danish, French, and Estonian forces. The RAF regularly deploys Typhoon FGR4s to Estonia to conduct Baltic Air Policing missions as part of Operation Azitoze. Since the RAF last deployed to Estonia in mid-2020, the air arm has conducted two enhanced Air Policing (eAP) missions to Romania under Operation Biloxi. Ben Stanley Hall