The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has handed responsibility for the NATO Enhanced Air Policing mission to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
At a ceremony at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Southern Romania, 135 Expeditionary Air Wing handed over responsibility for the NATO mission to the Canadians whose Hornet fighter jets will replace RAF Typhoons.
Among the several VIPs present at the ceremony was the British Ambassador, Mr Andrew Noble, who said:
“Today marks the conclusion of the second year in which RAF Typhoons have helped to defend and secure the skies of this important Black Sea flank of the NATO Alliance. This mission is in response to Russia’s use of military force against its neighbours and its military build-up in the region. In contrast, NATO’s aim is to contribute to European defence and security by preventing conflict, protecting our allies and preserving the peace.”
Mr Noble was joined by the Canadian Ambassador, Mr Kevin Hamilton, as well as the Chief of the Romanian Air Force, General Viorel Pana, and Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group RAF, Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth. Also present were personnel from the Royal Canadian and the Romanian Air Forces.
“Today my team’s role in NATO Air Policing draws to a close, for now, and it is a great honour to handover to the Royal Canadian Air Force as they also prepare to make their contribution to our collective defence in this region for the second year. I know they will do a fantastic job and we are, of course, both working hand-in-hand with the Romanian Air Force who never stops providing defence in this region”, said Wing Commander Chris Ball, the Commanding Officer of 135 EAW.
“I am fortunate to have worked in NATO for several years, and so I can say with confidence that this is a forward thinking, strong alliance, that remains defensive in nature.”
General Pana, in turn, thanked the RAF for its role conducting Quick Reaction Alert duties with its four Typhoon aircraft, hailing the NATO partnership as a success before awarding five members of 135 EAW with the ‘Romanian Air Force Emblem of Honour’ for their commitment and dedication.