UK and German air forces have started conducting a series of training exercises to prepare for their first integrated Nato Air Policing mission.
The preparatory exercises are being carried out to train the Royal Air Force (RAF) detachment for undertaking an Air Policing task in Estonia from April. This task is currently being performed by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe).
The RAF Expeditionary Air Wing, including RAF Lossiemouth-based IX(Bomber) Squadron, will be deployed to take over this mission.
Before officially handing over air policing responsibility to the UK, associated detachments from the two countries will be integrated to conduct joint missions next month.
A Luftwaffe detachment will continue to support the British forces, even after the RAF takes over the charge of Air Policing in April.
Initial training also involved personnel from Luftwaffe’s 71 Tactical Air Wing to perform ground and air training with IX(B) Squadron.
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RAF Operations deputy commander air marshal Smyth said: “Under this construct, we learn from each other more rapidly, and combine our strengths to become greater than the sum of parts.”
The training effort will ensure that deployed troops can understand the national differences between both countries, which operate the Eurofighter Typhoon fleet.
It will allow the UK-German detachments to fly two Eurofighters, one from each air force, together on a live-intercept mission.
Exercises also included air-to-air refuelling from an RAF Voyager and joint Quick Reaction Alert procedures and a cross-training, involving 18 Luftwaffe engineers, between German and RAF Typhoon variants.
Luftwaffe detachment commander major Lars Hansen said: “This week was important to train and develop together ahead of delivering Combined Baltic Air Policing. The lessons we learnt in the air and on the ground will pay dividends when we meet again in Estonia.”