News articles

How the Royal Air Force deployed to Estonia

The Royal Air Force has been deployed in Estonia since the beginning of March, conducting the NATO Air Policing mission.  However, to get there and then sustain the mission has been a ‘whole’ force effort carried out by all parts of the RAF.

At the heart of the effort to get there and then sustain the personnel and equipment of the deployed 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) for Op Azotize are the various Force Elements that make up Global Enablement, a part of No.2 Group.  Global Enablement is a concept that consists of a number of Air Combat Support and Service Support Units whose primary role is to enable and then sustain Air & Space Power operations, such as Op Azotize.

Global Enablement is led by Air Commodore Jamie Thompson, who explains that the role of Global Enablement is to provide the Air Combat Support and Service Support units that will provide the specialist capabilities required to enable Air and Space Power operations. 

'Operation Azotize, in Estonia is an example of this and is a powerful demonstration of the United Kingdom's commitment to NATO and the critical role of Air Policing to protect NATO airspace.  This could not happen without the many RAF Force elements that make up Global Enablement.'

Air Commodore Jamie Thompson

To prepare for the deployment of 140 EAW, the units from Global Enablement began work last year to plan and deliver all the capabilities required to conduct a NATO Air Policing mission.  Amongst the many units involved in the setup of the operation were, from RAF Wittering, 2 Mobile Transport Sqn who transported over 350,000kg of freight required for the operation.  At the same time other RAF Wittering units, 5001 Sqn and 93 Expeditionary Armament Sqn set up the key infrastructure required for the Typhoons weapons systems.

The vital communications needed to conduct Quick Reaction Alert operations were installed by RAF Leeming based 90 Signals Unit, who also established the key communication links required for the deployment.  Another important preparation for the arrival of the Typhoons from IX(Bomber) Sqn was the work of the RAF Police who together with their German Air Force counterparts, were able to ensure that all specialist security requirements were in place.

Deployed personnel from the various units that make up Global Enablement have remained with the EAW to sustain the operations. 

'An EAW such as this one requires a range of specialist capabilities.  This deployment has also seen the deployed personnel overcome the challenges of integrating with our German colleagues to conduct the mission together for two months. This we have successfully done, and we are now operating as one large team.  A demonstration of the flexibilities, capabilities and readiness, of the two air forces that underlines the Allies commitment to NATO and to Estonia.'

Squadron Leader Ford
Chief of Staff for 140 EAW