RAF Typhoons return to Lithuania

Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s from the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) No 6 Squadron have arrived in Lithuania to support NATO’s ongoing Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission.

The aircraft departed RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, and arrived at Šiauliai air base, Lithuania, where the multi-role fighters will provide a 24/7 quick reaction alert (QRA) capability in the Baltic states. During this rotation, the RAF Typhoons will operate alongside EF-18M Hornets from the Ejército del Aire (EdA, Spanish Air Force).

No 6 Sqn Typhoon FGR4 [MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt Keates] #1
RAF Typhoon FGR4 – serial ZK320 (c/n 312, line number BS081) – from No 6 Squadron depart RAF Lossiemouth for Lithuania on April 28. MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt Keates

Wg Cdr Matt D’Aubyn, officer commanding No 6 Squadron RAF, said: “This deployment is the latest RAF contribution to NATO Air Policing. As one of four frontline squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth, we routinely conduct UK-based [QRA] – on standby 24/7 to defend the nation’s skies.

“The NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltics is very similar to UK QRA, and my pilots and support personnel are experienced operators when it comes to completing this sort of task. Despite the difficult circumstances caused by COVID-19 we are well prepared and ready to deliver this mission”, he added.

This deployment is being supported by around 150 personnel from across the RAF, together forming 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW). This unit will augment No 6 Squadron and assist in delivering the UK’s contribution to the NATO BAP mission.

No 6 Sqn RAF Pilots Depart for BAP [MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt Keates] #1
Typhoon pilots from No 6 Squadron walk up to their aircraft prior to departing for Lithuania for what the RAF calls Operation Azotize. MoD Crown Copyright/Sgt Keates

Wg Cdr Stu Gwinnutt, commanding officer of the 135 EAW, said: “The RAF has been a regular guest of our Baltic hosts; this is the sixth time the [UK] has deployed on this air policing mission… The RAF was the third NATO member to conduct, what was then, a new allied [BAP] mission from Šiauliai, in 2004, and we look forward to conducting this important NATO mission. During the operation we will be demonstrating NATO’s collective resolve and assurance for our eastern allies, as well as showing that the [UK] remains [a] leading NATO member that is committed to NATO operations.”

According to a press release from the RAF, necessary measures have “been taken to ensure that both UK and Lithuanian mandated COVID-19 precautions and [countermeasures] have been followed” prior to this deployment.