News articles

UK foreign secretary visits the RAF serving in Estonia on NATO air policing mission

The UK’s Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, has visited the RAF detachment currently serving in Estonian on Operation Azotize conducting the NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission.

The Foreign Secretary arrived at Amari Airbase where he was greeted by the Commanding Officer of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing, Wing Commander Scott MacColl, the Officer Commanding number 1 (Fighter) Squadron, Wing Commander John Cockroft and the UK’s Ambassador to Estonia, Ross Allen. 

After the initial greeting, the Foreign Secretary was escorted to the Quick Reaction Alert hangars where he witnessed a training scramble. The sortie showcased the speed with which the RAF can respond to any potential threat and demonstrated how the NATO Air Policing Mission in Estonia is conducted.

The Foreign Secretary was given the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a Typhoon and discussed the various air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities of the jet.  He was also briefed on recent Typhoon integration activities involving HMS Albion and UK Land forces based in Estonia.  He then met with Commanding Officer of the Army Aviation Task Force, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Rivett, who explained the British military helicopter capabilities currently in Estonia, such as the Apache and Wildcat helicopters.

“The Foreign Secretary’s visit to Amari highlights the importance of the RAF’s role in Estonia. It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss the operations we have already delivered, to witness the responsiveness we provide and to gain a broader understanding of the Typhoon’s capabilities. The RAF’s role in Estonia is key to upholding regional security and integrating with our NATO allies. The ongoing efforts of 140 EAW has meant that we are able to provide the MOD and Ministers with flexible and agile operational choices.”

Wing Commander MacColl

1(F) Sqn has recently taken over from IX (Bomber) Squadron, as part of 140 EAW to deliver the NATO Air Policing Mission.

“It was great to welcome the Foreign Secretary to Amari following our recent handover from IX (B) Sqn.  The Squadron has smoothly transitioned into the role and is keen to work closely with NATO allies over the next two months to continue to improve our interoperability. We were able to demonstrate to the Foreign Secretary the effectiveness of the Typhoon in the QRA role and the rapidity at which our personnel can react to any potential threat, whilst also discussing the multi-role capabilities of the aircraft and how we work closely with our NATO partners.”

Wing Commander Cockroft

The RAF will fulfill NATO’s Air Policing Mission in Estonia until August when 140 EAW will hand over the task to the Spanish Air Force.