In April, the German Air Force, who are currently deployed in Estonia will be handing over responsibility for the leadership of the NATO Air Policing mission to RAF. Once the NATO mission is handed over a German detachment will remain integrated into the now RAF led mission to continue joint sorties throughout April.
“NATO Air Policing is our bread and butter business, but what’s different about this particular deployment is the fact that we are operating as a combined unit with our German counterparts,” said Air Marshal Harv Smyth, the RAF’s Deputy Commander Operations. He continued: “Under this construct, we learn from each other more rapidly, and combine our strengths to become greater than the sum of the parts. NATO is the cornerstone of Europe’s defence, and proving our two nations can work seamlessly together in this way, providing essential Control of the Air capabilities on our Eastern Flank, proves to our potential adversaries that the NATO alliance is stronger than ever.”
To achieve this integration, the personnel from the two air forces are training together to fully understand and integrate into each other’s operating and maintenance procedures. Both air forces fly the Eurofighter Typhoon, but with national differences this joint detachment is designed to allow all aspects of the operations to be fully understood. Once achieved both German and RAF Eurofighters will fly on live intercept missions over the next 2 months.
The preparation commenced with a German Air Force detachment, to RAF Lossiemouth where personnel from the 71 Tactical Air Wing ‘Richthofen’ conducted both air and ground training with IX(B) Squadron. This training included integrated Quick Reaction Alert procedures and air-to-air refueling from an RAF Voyager. In addition to the flying training, a team of 18 Luftwaffe engineers conducted cross-training between German and RAF versions of the Typhoon.
“This week was important to train and develop together ahead of delivering Combined Baltic Air Policing. The lessons we learnt in the air and on the ground will pay dividends when we meet again in Estonia” Major Lars ‘Scarlett’ Hansen, commanding the Luftwaffe detachment