A Royal Air Force Typhoon based in Romania has been launched as a response to Russian aircraft operating near NATO airspace over the Black Sea.
Operating from the Romanian Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base near Constanta on the Black Sea coast, the RAF Typhoon responded to Russian Federation Air Force Tu-22 Backfire strategic bombers heading south near NATO air space.
The Russian military jets were flying over the western Black Sea and were monitored by the Typhoon in accordance with the NATO Enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission the RAF are conducting in Romania. The Tupolevs were tracked as they departed south but the jets did not come within visual range of each other.
Previously NATO’s Air Surveillance and Control System had detected several tracks of non-NATO military aircraft flying over the Black Sea, which were later identified as the two Russian jets. The NATO Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Torrejon Spain, ordered a RAF Typhoon jet to scramble and shadow the Russian jets flying in international airspace in the vicinity of NATO airspace.
Wing Commander Lewis Cunningham, Officer Commanding 3(F) Squadron said “It worked as we would have expected it to. We took down the details, ran to the aircraft and I took off within the prescribed timeline.” He added: “It’s satisfying. We spotted that there was something happening and then very quickly the ‘phone call came and we were running out of the door.”
The RAF mission in Romania is part of NATO’s Assurance Measures introduced in 2014. At the time, the Alliance started implementing these Assurance Measures with the goal to demonstrate the collective resolve of Allies, demonstrate the defensive nature of NATO and deter the threat of Russian aggression against NATO Allies.
Wing Commander Andrew Coe, Commanding Officer of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing based in Romania said: “This was a routine operation and is no different to what NATO aircraft do in other areas on a regular basis”. He added; “The RAF have a long tradition and experience of conducting such activities in the UK and it is a normal peacetime activity to monitor flights in airspace of interest”.