UK leads NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission to deter Russian air incursions

default profile icon
Posted: 04/29/2016

Typhoons from RAF from II(AC) Squadron based in Lossiemouth in Scotland deployed on 27 April to Ämari Air Base in Estonia to take part for four months in NATO's Air Policing Mission. They have been joined by US Air Force surveillance planes and F16 fighter jets from Portugal.

On 16 April a US Navy RC-135U Combat Sent intelligence gathering and electronic warfare aircraft was buzzed in the eastern Baltic by Russian MiG-31 'Foxhound' combat jets.

The RAF and Portugal take over from Spain and Belgium, who have been policing the Baltic skies since the start of the year.

The mission's aim is to reassure allies and deter threats such as aggression from a resurgent Russia. The jets will intercept any intruding Russian aircraft and escort them from the area.

Because of the increasingly high level of Russian air activity and intrusions, the Estonian think tank, the International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS) has recommended that the current NATO Air Policing mission should transition to an Air Defence mission to increase the presence of air 'assets' in the region in order to meet any potential Russian air threat or attack.

On 27 April UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "This deployment underlines our commitment to the sovereignty of the democratic nations of Eastern Europe.

"24 hours a day, seven days a week for the next four months, our RAF Typhoons will be ready to respond instantly to Russian aggression in Baltic airspace."

The jets will intercept any intruding Russian aircraft and escort them from the area.

Wing Commander Gordon Melville, Commanding Officer of the RAF's 140 Expeditionary Air Wing, said: "I am very proud to be leading 140 Expeditionary Air Wing as we again provide air policing support to our Estonian NATO allies".

RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire has deployed support units to facilitate the operational tour, including expeditionary logistics and mechanical transport squadrons.

It is the third consecutive year that the UK has contributed to the mission, after rotations in 2014 and 2015.

Last year between May and August jets from RAF Lossiemouth tracked and turned back Russian MiG-31 'Foxhound' fighter jets and Tupolev Tu-22M 'Backfire C' bombers of type used to bomb Georgia in the Georgian War. The Lossiemouth pilots achieved the first RAF intercept of a Beriev A-50 'Mainstay' airborne early warning and control aircraft, which is similar to the US AWACS aircraft. They scrambled 17 times and intercepted 36 aircraft.

The UK is also contributing five ships including HMS Iron Duke, HMS Ocean and HMS Pembroke to the concurrent NATO maritime exercise Baltops 16, in the Baltic Sea.

Interested in learning more about this topic?
Integrated Air and Missile Defence Eastern Europe 2016

IAMD Eastern Europe is being held 26 28 July 2016 in association with the official support of Romania Defense Industry Employers' Organization. Download the agenda here.

default profile icon
Posted: 04/29/2016

Join for Free

EVENTS OF INTEREST

London Marriott Hotel Regents Park, London, United Kingdom
February 26 - 28, 2018
London Marriott Hotel Regents Park, London, United Kingdom
February 26 - 28, 2018
Hilton Syon Park Hotel, London, United Kingdom
March 12 - 14, 2018