British Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon fighter aircraft have started a four-month Nato Air Policing mission in the Baltic region after taking over from Germany.
Last month, four Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon jets from XI(F) Squadron based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire arrived in Estonia to support the Nato mission.
The British jets replaced the German Eurofighters flown by the Tactical Fighter Wing 71 ‘Richthofen’ of the Luftwaffe. The German Air Force was in charge of the mission for eight months.
Number 11 Group commanding air officer air vice marshal Ian Duguid said: “We have been working very closely with the German Air Force during our preparation and have shared both ideas and experience. They have done an excellent job over the last eight months and we will draw upon their support and our own extensive experience as we begin our own mission.”
“Our Nato allies can be reassured that the UK’s commitment to the alliance remains as steadfast as ever.”
The RAF will be responsible to provide a QRA capability off the Baltic Sea area around Estonia at all times.
German crews helped the RAF Typhoon crews in their preparations for the Nato mission.
The forces flew the first sorties, involving German and British Eurofighters, according to the German Detachment commander lieutenant colonel Sebastian Fiedler.
Fiedler noted that these sorties could form the basis for potential joint air policing missions in the future.
He added: “We are very much looking forward to being a part of this. The training flights we conducted have not only been a very good exercise for our pilots but also for the ground crews and the different units within our detachments to work together closely.”
RAF Typhoon squadrons last operated from Estonia in 2016.