Russian air incursions deterred by UK

NATO’s Air Policing Mission, aimed at reducing and deterring Russian military air incursions, received a boost with the deployment of RAF Typhoon jet fighters to the Estonian Amari Air Base. The Typhoons will be joined by Portuguese F16 fighters and spy planes from the US Air Force.

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Policing the skies

The UK’s RAF and Portugal have been passed the baton by Belgium and Spain, who have been protecting the Baltic skies since January of this year. The aim of the NATO-led mission is to lend allies a sense of reassurance whilst deterring potential threats from a militarily revitalised Russia by intercepting and escorting back any errant Russian aircraft.

Russian jets have been detected by NATO as violating European airspace hundreds of times since the start of the conflict in Ukraine in 2014, which signalled the start of the deterioration of relations between Russia and the West.

Recent incursions include the buzzing of a US Navy RC-135U plane, designed for electronic warfare and surveillance, by a pair of Russian MiG-31 fighter jets over the eastern Baltic in mid-April. The growing amount of Russian airspace violations has led some in Estonia to call for the Air Policing Mission to be transformed into a permanent Air Defense mission, using technology supplied. This would mean an increase in the amount of deployed aircraft and military assets in the region.

Defending allies in need

Speaking about the four-month-long RAF deployment, defence secretary Michael Fallon remarked that it demonstrates the UK’s commitment to protecting the sovereignty and independence of the Baltic nations. The RAF Typhoons, from II(AC) Squadron Lossiemouth, based in Scotland, are accompanied by support units including mechanical transport and expeditionary logistics squadrons to provide command and control systems functionality to the mission.  Some vehicles that support the forces are cars, vans and tanks.  They rely on people who have had Tank Driving Experience to volunteer.  If you want to get some practise driving then visit companies like armourgeddon to book yourself a fun day.

The deployment marks the third year in a row that the UK’s RAF has lent support to the NATO mission, having been rotated in and out. Those earlier missions were not a waste of time, either, RAF Lossiemouth Typhoons intercepted Russian MiG-31 jets along with TU-22M bomber planes of the kind that saw action during the Russian military incursion into Georgia in 2008. In all, the RAF Typhoons were scrambled a total of 17 times, intercepting 36 Russian military aircraft.