Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets have recently returned to Estonia to police the airspace of NATO’s Eastern border with a backdrop of conflict in Ukraine.
Operation Azotize began in March 2023 and is the second deployment of Typhoons to Eastern Europe since the Russian invasion in February last year. In March 2022 the RAF deployed to Romania for Operation Biloxi to cover the southern portion of NATO’s East border.
Both rotations were planned well before Russia’s incursion as part of an ongoing NATO commitment to provide air policing across its Eastern flank.
The 2022 Typhoon detachment to Romania contributed to 24/7 cover of the region’s airspace, but also took part in various exercises. These included a multinational tank exercise involving 250 armoured vehicles; a huge US-led training effort based in North Macedonia but stretching across Eastern Europe involving 17 nations; and travelling to Turkey to test pilot capabilities with the Turkish, Pakistani, Jordanian and Azerbaijani air forces.
9000 military personnel from 17 NATO and partner countries participated in Exercise Swift Response 2022, training together in the Arctic, the Baltic States and the Balkans. RAF Typhoons went to North Macedonia, until last Tuesday the newest NATO member, where they helped ground forces suppress a simulated enemy. Concurrently, RAF C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules transport aircraft delivered British and Italian paratroopers using high altitude low opening (HALO) and traditional parachute jumps, while Chinook helicopters landed troops and heavy weaponry.
Exercise Scorpion Legacy 2022 took place in Romania with 1800 troops and 250 armoured vehicles and had the Typhoons providing close air support to ground troops and vehicles, as well as working closely with Romanian Puma helicopters. The Exercise culminated with the Typhoons giving a live fire demonstration to enable an attack manoeuvre by the ground forces against a simulated enemy.
RAF Typhoons flew to Turkey to take part in Exercise Anatolian Eagle. They joined Turkish, Pakistani and Jordanian F-16 fighter jets, along with SU-25 aircraft from the Azerbaijani Air Force. The exercise tested the operational training level of the pilots with Typhoons employed in multiple realistic combat scenarios, acting as allied forces conducting combined air operations against a peer adversary.