British RAF fighter jets return home following Operation Azotize

4 September 2019 (Last Updated September 4th, 2019 11:32)

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has completed a four-month Operation Azotize deployment to support the Nato Baltic Air Policing mission in Estonia.

British RAF fighter jets return home following Operation Azotize
The RAF Typhoon detachment was deployed to Estonia to fulfil the UK’s commitment to Nato enhanced air policing. Credit: Royal Air Force, UK Crown Copyright.

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has completed a four-month Operation Azotize deployment to support the Nato Baltic Air Policing mission in Estonia.

RAF Typhoon fighter aircraft were deployed in Estonia to guard the skies over the Baltic country.

The fighter jets have transferred the patrol duties of the Nato mission to Gripen aircraft from the Czech Air Force and returned to the RAF airbase in Lincolnshire, UK.

The RAF Typhoons took over the Baltic Air Policing mission in May this year from the German Air Force.

During the course of the Operation Azotize deployment, British Typhoons conducted 21 Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) scrambles to intercept 56 Russian military aircraft, including transport and fighter jets.

Nato countries are providing air policing support to the governments of the three Baltic nations, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, as the countries do not possess their own fighter jets to guard their skies.

The Baltic Air Policing mission is intended to protect the integrity of Nato airspace.

Nato nations take charge of the mission in turns to ensure the availability of a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) force at all times to respond to potential threats and to intercept aircraft approaching Nato airspace.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Throughout their deployment in Estonia, the world-class pilots, engineers and support personnel of our RAF Typhoon detachment have ensured that the Baltic skies have been patrolled safely and skilfully.

“Our presence in the region has served to reinforce that the UK remains ready to support our allies wherever and whenever required.”

Operation Azotize is the third deployment of the RAF Typhoons to Baltic Air Policing missions in Estonia. Previous deployments took place in 2015 and 2016.

The RAF has stated that the Typhoons will head to Iceland later this year to perform Nato air policing mission duties.

Meanwhile, RAF Typhoons based at RAF Coningsby have left for a four-month tour of the Middle East and the Far East to participate in exercises.