A Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jet operating from Ämari Air Base in Estonia has carried out the first joint NATO Air Policing interception alongside a German Air Force Typhoon.
The pair of jets launched on 14 March to first intercept a Russian Ilyushin Il-78 Midas aerial refuelling tanker aircraft that was flying close to Estonian airspace. The Typhoons were then tasked to intercept a Russian Antonov 148 military transport aircraft.
The RAF and German Air Force are conducting Joint NATO Air Policing, a first for two NATO Allies. The interception is however a routine NATO mission for the Typhoons which provides reassurance that the UK and Germany together with other NATO allies stand with their Estonia ally at this time of tension.
NATO continues to form the bedrock of our collective security. This joint UK and German deployment in the Baltics clearly demonstrates our collective resolve whilst demonstrating our combined strength.
Minister for Armed Forces
We were scrambled to intercept an aircraft that was approaching Estonian airspace, we identified and monitored it as it transited close to NATO airspace.
Any aircraft that are not communicating with Air Traffic Control or on a recognised flight plan will be intercepted by us to ensure we know who they are and maintain flight safety for all airspace users. As a fighter pilot this was a routine business, even though I was flying alongside a German colleague. It is clear that all of our training and hard work paid off as we seamlessly operated together.
Typhoon pilot from IX (Bomber) Squadron
The Royal Air Force is deployed on Operation Azotize in Estonia to conduct the long-established NATO Baltic Air Policing mission. During March the mission is being led by the German Air Force, before handing over to the RAF. Joint missions will be flow till the end of April.
It was great to see the UK and German elements operate as one team. As NATO continually adapts its structures and workforce, today shows us the next evolution.
Wing Commander Maccoll
140 Expeditionary Air Wing Commander
The UK and Germany are operating together as part of NATO to reassure our allies and is a further demonstration of the UK and Germany’s commitment to the security of the region. The German Air Force detachment is from the 71 Tactical Air Wing ‘Richthofen'.