Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets deployed to Lithuania on a NATO policing mission have carried out their first intercept of the operation, on a Russian Military Aircraft off the Baltic coast. The Typhoons launched on 2nd June 2020 to intercept a Russian IL-20 Coot Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft operating over the Baltic Sea.
A Typhoon pilot from 6 Squadron, attached to 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, was on Quick Reaction Alert duty when the scramble was called. He said:
“The scramble was called to intercept a Russian IL-20 Coot ISR aircraft. The initial scramble was a real shot of adrenaline, but once airborne it was important to remain calm and professional and make the intercept as expeditious as possible to ensure we maintained both the safety and integrity of NATO airspace. This is what all of our training is designed to prepare us for however, at the end of the day it’s just my job.”
This intercept is part of the routine NATO Air Policing mission that has been conducted to police the skies since 2004. The current RAF mission began on the 1 May when 135 EAW took over the enhanced Air Policing role working alongside the Spanish Air Force detachment at Siauliau Air Base.
Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, 135 EAW Commander offered: “It is great to see all of the training come together in a timely response and a successful NATO Baltic Quick Reaction Alert Air Policing mission.”
The RAF contribution to NATO deployments supports efforts to reassure our Allies and demonstrates the UK’s wider commitment to the security of the region.
-- OP AZOTIZE is the UK contribution to NATO enhanced Air Policing which forms part of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing (BAP) Mission. In turn this forms part of the NATO Assurance Measures first announced in 2014.
The RAF will be flying from Lithuania this year after last year’s successful deployment to Estonia. RAF Typhoon aircraft will conduct the mission to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to NATO and offer reassurance in the Baltic Sea Region. This builds on previous RAF experience gained on Baltic Air Policing and recent Air Policing missions in Iceland and Romania.
-- The Typhoon FGR. Mk 4 is a highly capable and extremely agile fourth-generation multi-role combat aircraft, that can be deployed for the full spectrum of air operations, including air policing, peace support and high intensity conflict. Initially deployed in the air-to-air role as the Typhoon F. Mk 2, the aircraft now has a potent, precision multi-role capability as the FGR4. The pilot performs many essential functions through the aircraft’s hands on throttle and stick (HOTAS) interface which, combined with an advanced cockpit and the Helmet Equipment Assembly (HEA), makes the Typhoon superbly equipped for all aspects of air operations.
Although Typhoon has flown precision attack missions in all its combat deployments to date, its most essential role remains the provision of quick reaction alert (QRA) for UK and Falkland Islands airspace. Detachments also continue to join NATO Air Policing missions in the Baltic, Iceland and Black Sea regions.