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Royal Air Force unite with NATO allies in a Romanian Naval exercise

Royal Air Force personnel based in Romania have been taking part in a maritime exercise with NATO allies in the Black Sea, led by the Romanian Navy Fleet Command.

Squadron Leader Roger Cruickshank, a pilot from 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), who flew a sortie from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base over the Black Sea under the control of a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer, said:  “The Exercise started by joining up with two Romanian Air Force MIG21s, then flying overhead HMS Duncan in close formation.”

An RAF Typhoon and a Romanian MiG 21 LanceR flying side by side over MK Airbase in Romania.

He added “This was a fantastic symbol of how we are closely working together with our NATO allies and a historic moment as part of Exercise Sea Shield.  I was controlled by HMS Duncan, who used her sophisticated systems to maintain full awareness of my position and simulated enemy aircraft trying to attack the ship.


“I was able to stop the advances of the oncoming aircraft trying to attack the friendly ships by HMS Duncan’s excellent team who were ready to simulate launching her own weapons in protection. The mission was a success and proved how integrated we are in times of crisis and that we can work so cohesively with our Romanian partners.”

Squadron Leader Roger Cruickshank


Personnel based at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Southern Romania, have been working closely with multinational partners to co-ordinate the air aspect of Exercise Sea Shield, which is a joint exercise based on a potential crisis scenario occurring, testing the reactions and agility of NATO forces.

The Defence Attaché, Commander Neville McNally and Chief of Staff for Operations on Op BILOXI, Squadron Leader Roger Cruickshank aboard HMS Duncan.

The Commanding Officer of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, Wing Commander Chris Ball, was invited by the Romanian Fleet Command to attend the opening ceremony and formal reception at Constanta port.  

At the opening ceremony Wg Cdr Ball said: “Exercise Sea Shield will be an invaluable training opportunity for us. We will be collaborating in to provide air power within a maritime exercise.  135 EAW personnel will work alongside military personnel from a diverse range of nations and forces within NATO.  Together, we will enhance the mutual understanding between air, land and maritime within the Black Sea, reinforcing the UK commitment to the alliance and our ability to effectively contribute to NATO collective defence.”

Chief of the Romanian Naval Forces, Vice Admiral Alexandru Mirsu and NATO Task Force Commander, Commodore Mike Utley (Royal Navy).

“I’d like to emphasise the importance of Exercise Sea Shield. This year we are delighted to see such a diverse mixture of multinational forces participating, NATO has provided a partnership under which we can maintain the security and stability of all our nations. I thank all the nations that will be participating, this is an opportunity for us all to work together, ensuring NATO readiness is upheld and proving that NATO is both a credible and efficient alliance."

Vice Admiral Alexandru Mirsu
Chief of the Romanian Naval Forces