RAF Typhoons Fly to Lithuania to Begin Latest NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission

The Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets, based at RAF Lossiemouth, have left for Lithuania to begin the UK’s latest NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, on April 28.

The RAF No. 6 Squadron aircraft are deploying to Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania where they will carry out the Baltic Air Policing mission for the summer, along with the Spanish Air Force, who will be deploying F-18 Hornet fighter jets.

The 6 Squadron detachment will be augmented by other personnel from across the Service to form 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, which consists of around 150 personnel who will be well equipped and trained to deliver this NATO Air Policing role.

“This deployment is the latest RAF contribution to NATO Air Policing. As one of four front-line Squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth, we routinely conduct UK-based Quick Reaction Alert – on standby 24/7 to defend the Nation’s skies”, said Wing Commander Matt D’Aubyn, Officer Commanding 6 Squadron.

“The NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltics is very similar to UK QRA, and my pilots and supporting personnel are experienced operators when it comes to completing this sort of task. Despite the difficult circumstances caused by COVID-19 we are well prepared and ready to deliver this mission.”

“The RAF has been a regular guest of our Baltic hosts; this is the sixth time the United Kingdom has deployed on this Air Policing mission”, said Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, Commanding Officer of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing.

“The RAF was the third NATO member to conduct, what was then, a new Allied Baltic Air Policing mission from Šiauliai, in 2004, and we look forward to conducting this important NATO mission. During the operation, we will be demonstrating NATO’s collective resolve and assurance for our eastern allies, as well as showing that the United Kingdom remains leading NATO member that is committed to NATO operations.”

The RAF have previously deployed to the Baltic region during 2014, 2016, 2016 and 2019 as the second Air Policing detachment under enhanced Air Policing. Additionally, the RAF has conducted NATO AP missions in the skies of Romania and Iceland, demonstrating Allied cooperation, interoperability and cohesion.

RAF Typhoon - NATO Baltic Air Policing
A Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft fly alongside a Russian Su-27 “Flanker” fighter aircraft during NATO Baltic Air Policing mission (Operation Azotize). RAF Photo.

NATO’s Air Policing is a peacetime collective mission safeguarding the integrity of the Allies’ airspace. All Allies contribute to this collective mission bringing a system of radar sites and air surveillance and control units as well as fighter aircraft together under the coordination of Allied Air Command.

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