Royal Air Force Typhoon jets have returned to their Lincolnshire base after completing the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission and handing over to Gripen aircraft from the Czech Air Force.
Over the four-month deployment, known as Operation Azotize, RAF Typhoons conducted a total of 21 interceptions of 56 Russian aircraft in the skies above Estonia.
The RAF fighter jets were in Estonia, as the UK took its turn in a routine NATO deployment. The deployment was at the request of the Estonian Government, to provide the country with a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) force. This force is drawn in turn from NATO partners and is ready to respond at any time to potential threats and to intercept aircraft straying towards NATO airspace.
The deployment has been a further demonstration of the UK’s enduring commitment to the security of the Baltic region and the wider NATO alliance.
“Throughout their deployment in Estonia, the world-class pilots, engineers and support personnel of our RAF Typhoon detachment have ensured that the Baltic skies have been patrolled safely and skilfully. Our presence in the region has served to reinforce that the UK remains ready to support our allies wherever and whenever required”, said Ben Wallace, the UK Defence Secretary.
The Typhoon squadron was supported throughout the deployment by 121 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), also based at RAF Coningsby. The EAW comprised men and women from a range of branches and trades needed to keep four state of the art aircraft operating for several months away from home.