Both France and Germany are supporting NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission with their fighters. The French detachment deployed one of their Rafale jets to Ämari where the German detachment provided extensive bed-down and servicing support enabling combined training in Diverse Aircraft Combat Training and Deployed Operations in Contested Environment.
“We conducted this temporary deployment to ensure our operations continued out of an alternate air base,” said the French Rafale Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan. “The combined experience with our German counterparts has proved our agility – meaning we are capable of working together from any allied base and with limited support. We demonstrated our interoperability within NATO and within the enhanced Air Policing mission,” he concluded.
“The German Air Force has considerable experience of conducting combined operations and missions with other Eurofighter Typhoon Nations, like the UK, Italy and Spain, while deployed,” said the German Eurofighter Detachment Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Hachmeister. “We appreciate this short-notice French Air Force Rafale deployment as it allows us to see how we can provide aircraft cross-servicing with a different type of aircraft and exploit synergies and capitalise on our interoperability,” he added.
“This is exactly what NATO interoperability is about. Our deployed detachments conduct all sorts of training missions in order to improve their tactics, techniques and procedures, “said Lieutenant Colonel Bruno Carreiro, member of the Logistics Operations Branch at Allied Air Command, Ramstein Germany. “With this short-notice deployment of French Rafale to bed-down with a German Eurofighter detachment on a NATO mission, we demonstrate an important aircraft cross-servicing capability and create synergies. German refuelling, servicing and other ground support for the French Rafale epitomise the Alliance’s spirit of working together to protect our Allies,” he added.
The training scenario began with a simulated threat at Siauliai Air Base, which required France to relocate their Rafale jets. Meanwhile the limited ground support team from France arrived in place to receive their fighter jet and work with German and Estonian counterparts to turn the jet around for another mission and the return flight to Lithuania.
This deployment is one example of a changed mind-set regarding logistic support, which has long been considered a purely national responsibility. NATO and the Allies are considering supporting air deployments in a different manner, increasing their capability for mutual support across the national air forces. Therefore, building strong partnerships will be key to ensuring air forces can rapidly respond to any threat arising anywhere because they are establishing a solid and proven network of air bases, points of contacts and combined capabilities already during our routine operations in peacetime.