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Apr 16 2020

Royal Air Force Augments NATO Baltic Air Policing in Lithuania

A Royal Air Force Typhoon from RAF Lossiemouthj in Scotland taking off in during a previous NATO mission in the Baltic region. From May onwards these fighter jets will be safeguarding skies over Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Archive photo courtesy Royal Air Force

ŠIAULIAI, Lithuania - From May to the end of August, a detachment of Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft will augment the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission flying alongside the Spanish Air Force F-18 fighters at Šiauliai, Lithuania safeguarding the airspace on the shores of the Baltic Sea.  

Returning to Siauliai Air Base after six years, the Royal Air Force will augment NATO’s peacetime mission here with a 150 strong Typhoon detachment conducting another deployment of Operation AZOTIZE.

We will demonstrate NATO’s collective resolve and assurance for our eastern Allies

“The RAF has been a regular guest of our Baltic colleagues, this is the sixth time the United Kingdom has deployed on this Air Policing mission,” Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, the RAF detachment commander. “The RAF was the third NATO member to conduct what was then a brand-new Allied mission of Baltic Air Policing here at Šiauliai, in 2004,” he added. 

Earlier in April the Royal Air Force started deployment preparation for the upcomig mission, when at RAF Wittering 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron began the task of delivering vital equipment to Lithuania in support of the Typhoon detachment. Photo courtesy Royal Air Force

“I look forward to commanding the latest RAF detachment to conduct this important NATO mission, where we will demonstrate NATO’s collective resolve and assurance for our eastern Allies,” Wing Commander Gwinnutt went on to say. “As well as showing that the United Kingdom remains a leading NATO member that is reliable and well-connected,” he added.

Formed around number 6 Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, the Typhoon detachment is augmented by specialist personnel from across the RAF to ensure that the detachment is able to operate and meet its operational taskings. The RAF have previously deployed to the Baltic region during 2014, 2016, 2016 and 2019 as a the second Air Policing detachment under enhanced Air Policing. Additionally, the RAF has conducted NATO AP missions in the skies of Romania and Iceland, demonstrating Allied cooperation, interoperability and cohesion. 

Royal Air Force Typhoon sitting on an apron at Ämari Air Base, Estonia, during the 2016 depoloyment in support of NATO's enhanced Air Policing  augmenting the Baltic Air Policing capabilities. Archive photo courtesy Royal Air Force

NATO’s Air Policing is a peacetime collective mission safeguarding the integrity of the Allies’ airspace. All Allies contribute to this collective mission bringing a system of radar sites and air surveillance and control units as well as fighter aircraft together under the coordination of Allied Air Command. Via its two Combined Air Operation Centres at Uedem, Germany, and Torrejon, Spain, the Allies have successfully cooperated and ensure one single standard of Air Policing across NATO airspace in Europe. Allies without necessary air capabilities of their own e.g. .g. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are integrated into Air Policing by deploying Allied fighter detachments. 

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

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