Showing posts with label Typhoon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Typhoon. Show all posts

15 April, 2024

RAF Fighter Squadron arrives in Romania

RAF Fighter Squadron arrives in Romania to co-lead NATO Air Policing mission

Royal Air Force fighter jets have started protecting NATO’s eastern flank, close to the Black Sea, following a handover ceremony held on 9th April in Romania. 

Six RAF Typhoon fighter aircraft are taking part in the four-month mission, with jets from IX (Bomber) Squadron, along with more than two hundred RAF personnel from 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (140EAW) deployed from RAF Lossiemouth to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania. They will fly alongside the Romanian Air Force as part of NATO’s enhanced Air Policing mission until August.

The air policing mission begins this week following a ceremony today, 9th April, involving RAF personnel, their Romanian counterparts, and NATO officials. The personnel involved in the mission will be on standby at a moment’s notice to launch Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) intercepts of Russian aircraft approaching NATO airspace.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:  “Our NATO air policing deployment helps to keep Europe’s skies secure, and I pay tribute to the dedicated personnel delivering this important mission.

Ready to launch at a moment’s notice for the next four months, the Typhoon pilots will respond with professionalism to threats and incidents in support of our collective security. 

We’re showing the scale of our commitment to NATO in its 75th year, with deployments like this and thousands of personnel operating and exercising across the alliance to keep the UK and our allies safe.”

The countries involved in NATO’s air policing missions rotate on a regular basis, with the RAF having flown to intercept more than 50 Russian aircraft in the first half of last year while leading the Alliance’s enhanced air policing mission from Estonia. This will be the fifth time the RAF have participated in the air policing mission in Romania.

16 February, 2024

RAF Typhoons are flying on a large scale Saudi Arabian multinational air exercise

The RAF Typhoons from XI (Fighter) Squadron that are in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia taking part in this year’s Spears of Victory exercise are flying daily sorties as part of a large coalition of nations.

During the exercise, the nations are flying together in mixed groups to conduct air operations against a simulated peer adversary. Each contingent during the missions is practicing conducting defensive counter-air and offensive counter-air operations, as well as air interdiction training against live and simulated threats. 

Colonel Alshehri Saeed, Royal Saudi Air Force Exercise Director said:  “The RSAF and the RAF have a strong alliance that has continued to develop here on Spears of Victory 24, we look forward to working together in the future."

Squadron Leader Hodgkinson, UK Detachment Commander commented:  “The missions that are flown on Spears of Victory 24 are the centrepiece of the exercise. Pilots and aircrew on a multinational exercise are able to build relationships through shared experiences."

In addition to the RAF Typhoons taking part, the Royal Saudi Air Force are flying their Typhoons, Tornados and F-15s. F-16s are taking part from, Greece, and the UAE. The Saudi F-15s have been joined by others from Qatar, with the French Air and Space Force detachment contributing Rafales. The Pakistan Air Force are flying their JF-17s. The Royal Air Force of Oman IS also flying Typhoons. The US contribution this year has been to allocate KC 135 sorties to add to the Air to Air Refuelling capability. In total, over 60 aircraft are taking part in the exercise this year.

Flight Lieutenant ‘Boz’,  RAF Typhoon pilot on the exercise told us: “Whilst on Spears of Victory, a number of us will take part as the Mission commander, Deputy Mission commander, or a Package Lead.

“During one sortie I was the Air to Air package lead.  What that means is whilst I am leading a formation of Typhoons, I'm also feeding into the bigger picture and in charge of other assets within the area of operations.  With this being a network-enabled exercise I not only have the situational awareness of my own formation, but also what other call signs are doing and that is a critical element of modern warfighting."

Your travel planning isn’t complete without learning the language—or at least some essential phrases. Fully immerse yourself in the language, or use Phrasebook to learn travel essentials—the choice is yours!

08 February, 2024

Royal Air Force Typhoons arrive in Saudi Arabia for large scale multinational air exercise

Flying high ready for action.
RAF Coningsby based Typhoons from XI (Fighter) Squadron have arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to join this year’s Spears of Victory exercise being held at the King Abdulaziz Air Base. 

Personnel from across the RAF have deployed on this large scale, Saudi hosted multinational air warfare training exercise. The RAF are joining participants from several branches of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s military, as well as contingents from Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, France, Greece, Pakistan, and the US.

Squadron Leader Hodgkinson, UK Detachment Commander said:  “Spears of Victory 24 is an extremely important training opportunity for our force enablers to work alongside strategic partners in the region to demonstrate the Combat Air capacity of our highly trained pilots and engineers in the Typhoon Force. Now, as much as never before, we strive for excellence in air dominance – collaborating with allies that have come together in a demonstration of their commitment to stability in the Broader Middle East."

In addition to the RAF Typhoons taking part in this year’s exercise, the Royal Saudi Air Force will be flying their Typhoons, Tornados and F-15s.  F-16s are taking part from Bahrain, Greece, and the UAE.  The Saudi F-15s will be joined by others from Qatar.  The French Air and Space detachment will be contributing Rafales, and the Pakistan Air Force will be flying their JF-17s. The Royal Air Force of Oman will also be flying Typhoons.

An F16 arrives from the UAE

Hodgkinson adds: "The welcome at King Abdulaziz Air Base and the support in country has been fantastic and the facilities here will allow us to really make the most of this opportunity. We look forward to a busy deployment, operating at a high tempo alongside our international colleagues; I am confident the whole detachment will learn a great deal from the Exercise."

The United States Detachment is not flying this year, but instead has committed a mixed unit of National Guardsmen to provide a range of ground support activities, including Fire Fighters Security, and logisticians to support the exercise.

27 January, 2024

More Typhoon for Saudi Arabia moves closer.

BAE Systems is currently collaborating with officials in the UK government and MoD regarding a statement of requirements issued by Saudi Arabia over a possible order of nearly 50 Typhoon Eurofighter jets for its armed forces.

Saudi Arabia already has a fleet of 72 Eurofighters following a special deal back in 2007. This latest order for the latest generation of the fighter jet had been held up by Germany, which currently blocks deliveries of arms to Saudi Arabia over its actions in the war in Yemen. However, this month, German officials lifted their objections to further aircraft deals. At the time, a spokesperson for the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said: "The Saudi Arabian air force, also using Eurofighters, shot down Houthi missiles (from Yemen) that were on their way to Israel. And it is in the light of all these developments that the German government's position on the Eurofighter must be seen. And this is closely coordinated within the German government."

It is unclear at this stage how close the actualisation of the deal is and how feasible the statement or requirements are, but according to military analysts, an announcement will be made by summer this year. 

29 November, 2023

Royal Air Force Typhoons take part in large international exercise in Qatar

Typhoons from RAF Coningsby-based XI(Fighter) Squadron, have taken part in a large international exercise in Qatar.

The exercise known as Ferocious Falcon V, involved forces from Qatar, France, Italy, Türkiye and the United States. The RAF Typhoons were also joined by elements of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and HMS Lancaster.

The Qatari led exercise is designed to bring partner forces together to increase combat efficiency and increase unity. The exercise also strengthens the bonds of friendship, the support of joint action and the exchange of experiences with these countries.

Elements from the Qatari land, naval and air forces all took part in the exercise. The Qatari aim was that all military personnel from the participating countries will gain experience in the field and strengthen international relations by cooperating in various missions.

Squadron Leader Hodgkinson, XI (F) Squadron Detachment Commander said:  “This Exercise offered increased exposure to our allies in the Broader Middle East, facilitating advanced training and integration. The small detachment of pilots and specialist engineers have delivered 100% exercise sortie completion rates and the opportunity to work closely with international allies has been invaluable.

XI (F) Squadron, like the rest of the Typhoon Force, are held at readiness to project Combat Air across the globe.  We have completed Ex Bersama Lima in Malaysia and then pivoted to the Middle East for this exercise, reflecting the agility and resilience the squadron and aircraft offers”.

23 November, 2023

Turkey sought Eurofighters after uncertainty over U.S. F-16 buy -source

Turkey began talks with European states on buying 40 Eurofighter Typhoon jets after recognising that its request for F-16 jets from the United States might not work out, a Turkish defence ministry source said on Thursday.

Defence Minister Yasar Guler said last week that Turkey was in talks with Britain and Spain to buy Typhoons, though Germany objected to the idea, reports Huseyin Hayatsever and Ece Toksabay from Reuters. 

Turkey wants to buy the most advanced, newly built version of the Eurofighter, the source said. Its defence ministry and the British Embassy in Ankara said Guler discussed the issue with his British counterpart Grant Shapps in Ankara on Thursday.

Turkey a NATO member, asked in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) F-16 fighters and 79 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes.

U.S. President Joe Biden's administration backs the $20-billion sale, but there have been objections in the U.S. Congress over Turkey's delaying of NATO enlargement to bring in Sweden, and over its human rights record.

Turkey has informed NATO that the ratification of Sweden's membership bid will not be completed by the alliance's foreign ministers meeting next week, further complicating matters.

"Turkish air forces are in need of new aircraft. Our first choice is F-16s... But considering the possibility that we might not get a positive response in this prolonged process, the Eurofighter Typhoon jets are the most suitable alternatives to F-16s," the source said.

08 October, 2023

Two RAF Typhoon Squadrons deploy simultaneously to opposite sides of the world

This week, two Typhoon Squadrons have deployed simultaneously to Operation Carson in Poland & Exercise Bersama Lima in Malaysia.

In Poland, the operational detachment codenamed Op Carson, involves pilots undertaking combat air training with NATO allies Poland, Italy and Spain. This training includes dogfighting against different types of aircraft, and Close Air Support (CAS) training that helps ground forces in combat. This activity went ahead of the Warsaw Security Forum, where ministers from Defence and the FCDO stressed the need to maintain support for Ukraine and keep up the pressure on Russia.

RAF Typhoon and a foreign aircraft flying together over land

In Malaysia, the Typhoons flew nearly 7000 miles with support of the Voyager aircraft to work together in an air defence scenario with partners from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. These nations form the Five Powers Defence Arrangements (FPDA), which is a defensive military agreement to help maintain security in the region.

Whether its flying alongside allies in Poland, or 7000 miles away in Malaysia, the jets are always busy developing strong and enduring international partnerships.

03 October, 2023

Royal Air Force jets arrive at Polish air base for joint training

Royal Air Force Typhoon jets have arrived at a Polish Air Base to conduct multiple training exercises with Poland and other NATO allies.

The four Typhoons and a Globemaster C-17 transport aircraft flew from RAF Akrotiri, where the Typhoons are currently based, to Poznan where they were welcomed by their Polish counterparts.

The two-week deployment, codenamed Op Carson, will involve pilots undertaking combat air training with Poland, Italy and Spain to practice dogfighting against different types of aircraft to develop tactics. Close Air Support (CAS) training will also be conducted with UK and US Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) who direct the action of combat aircraft.

The Typhoon detachment is being led by, Sqn Ldr Hunter, who said:  "Over the next fortnight, we will be working closely with our allies practicing engaging targets beyond visual range and simulating various possible combat scenarios with forces both on the ground and in the air over Eastern skies.
We take our role in European security seriously and these joint exercises only serve to bolster collective defence across the region."

In addition to the flying Squadron, UK-based RAF personnel including engineers, cyberspace communication specialists, force protection specialists and a range of trades with high-level skill sets are forward deployed to Poland to enable the delivery of the training.

The detachment is being supported by part of the Tactical Communications Wing, a part of 90 Signals Unit.  Sergeant Connolly from the detachment said:

90SU are an effective Global Enablement unit who establish a base for aircraft to operate from. The encompassing capability of all supporting functions is crucial in successful operational output despite where, when or how it is required.

The activity comes ahead of UK Ministers attending the Warsaw Security Forum this week. Defence Minister James Heappey and FCDO ministers Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Lord Ahmad will all use the forum to stress the need to maintain support for Ukraine and keep up the pressure on Russia.

26 September, 2023

RAF Typhoons land and take off from a road for first time

Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets have successfully landed on and taken off from a regular road for the first time.

Two of the RAF’s frontline jets tested and proved the capability in Finland as part of Exercise Baana. The Finnish Air Force’s annual training exercise took place on a single-lane road in Tervo, which is usually used for normal road traffic but specially designed as an emergency landing strip to sustain aircraft activity if required.

The RAF is focussing on ways to conduct Agile Combat Employment to outmanoeuvre an adversary – to survive an attack, disperse to remote locations and continue operating with minimal support.

The Officer Commanding of 41 Test and Evaluation Squadron was one of the two pilots to take part. He said:  “This is an opportunity to work with one of our newest NATO partners on an exercise in Agile Combat Employment. The Finnish have worked hard for decades on disparate operations should they be attacked and need to disperse their aircraft.  Once we landed on the strip we stopped to refuel before taking off again, I couldn’t help but look around and think ‘I am sitting in a jet on a road in the middle of a forest in Finland’. That was pretty crazy and definitely a first.”

A small number of RAF personnel were on the ground to refuel and maintain the aircraft to ensure they could continue operating.

A second pilot said:  “This is a great step forward for RAF Typhoon capability. We often talk about capability being the stuff that we fly with such as weapons and sensors.

What is great about this is it a novel way of employing the jet, improving our survivability against modern threats and operating from dispersed locations, and also doing that while working closely with our allies who are absolutely critical to future operations.”  

The RAF used to operate from unusual locations such as roads and fields during the Cold War, in order to make our aircraft harder for the enemy to find, Russian aggression in Eastern Europe has reminded us all of the need to be able to disperse our aircraft and be more unpredictable, so why we are completing exercises such as this.

This is the first time the RAF has taken part in the exercise, which is now part of the Finnish Air Force’s routine flying training. The Norwegian Air Force, also taking part for the first time, tested their F-35A Lightning aircraft, a 5th generation fighter jet also operated by the UK and 15 other allied countries.

The RAF Typhoons were operating out of Rissala Air Base and Tervo Road Base for these trials. It provides the opportunity to expand the combat air knowledge and practices of using Emergency Landing Strips and dispersed operations.

The UK and Finland enjoy a close defence relationship as NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force allies, and often train and deploy together on exercises around the world. Finnish troops also work side-by-side with the British Armed Forces to train Ukrainian recruits in the UK.

14 August, 2023

RAF Typhoon jets intercept Russian bombers flying north of Scotland

The Typhoons launched from RAF Lossiemouth, one of the RAF’s two Quick Reaction Alert stations, where RAF fighters are constantly available to respond to threats at a moment’s notice.

Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots launched Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Typhoon fighters to intercept two Russian long-range maritime patrol bombers this morning as they transited north of the Shetland Islands within NATO’s northern air policing area.

The Typhoon jets launched from RAF Lossiemouth, one of the RAF’s two QRA stations, where RAF fighters are constantly available to respond to threats at a moment’s notice in order to defend UK airspace.

The Russian Tu-142 Bear-F and Tu-142 Bear-J maritime patrol aircraft, used for reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare, were monitored by RAF Typhoons in international airspace as they passed north of the UK.

Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, said:   "RAF crews at Lossiemouth maintain a constant watch over UK airspace and are always ready to take action at a moment’s notice to keep our country safe.

Pilots launched in their Typhoon jets to intercept two Russian long-range bombers this morning, monitoring them as they passed north of the Shetland Islands, ready to counter any potential threat to UK territory."

A Voyager tanker was also scrambled and remained airborne for the duration of the mission to offer air-to-air refueling, ensuring the Typhoons could remain in the air for the extended period necessary to complete their mission.

The lead RAF Typhoon pilot said:  "It’s really satisfying to know we’ve been able to make a successful intercept, maintaining the integrity of UK and NATO airspace.

When the alarm for a scramble happened in the early hours of the morning, the adrenaline kicked in. Working in tandem with ground control operators, and with air-to-air refueling from an RAF Voyager, we were able to stay on task until the mission was complete, and the target aircraft departed the UK’s area of interest."

RAF Typhoons are scrambled during these incidents to secure and safeguard the skies of the UK. RAF pilots from Lossiemouth recently completed a four-month deployment to lead NATO’s air policing mission in Estonia, where more than 50 air intercepts of this kind were carried out.

Russian military aircraft entering the UK Flight Information Region, the UK’s controlled zone of international airspace, can pose a hazard to other aircraft. These Russian aircraft often do not talk to air traffic control or ‘squawk’, broadcasting a code ensuring they are visible to other air users and air traffic controllers on the ground.

The Typhoons and Voyager have returned to their base and the aircraft have been refueled to remain ready to respond to any future potential threats.

04 August, 2023

RAF completes NATO air policing mission in the Baltic

The UK has been leading NATO’s air policing mission in Estonia for the last four months, demonstrating the UK's commitment to the Alliance and security in Europe. The RAF intercepted 50 Russian aircraft 

Royal Air Force personnel have returned to the UK after leading NATO’s Baltic air policing mission in Estonia for four months, during which pilots intercepted 50 Russian aircraft and flew for a combined total of more than 500 hours.

Members of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (140 EAW) have been deployed to Ämari Air Base since the start of March, along with a squadron of RAF Typhoon fighter jets, to conduct Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) intercepts of Russian aircraft transiting close to NATO airspace.

Typhoon jets and their pilots from IX(Bomber) and 1(Fighter) squadrons had deployed to Estonia from RAF Lossiemouth, where the majority of 140 EAW’s personnel have now returned.

The deployment, named Op Azotize, began with RAF pilots flying missions alongside the German Air Force – during which the first ever air joint air intercept between NATO allies took place, as British and German Typhoons shadowed a Russian air-to-air refuelling aircraft and transport aircraft.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:  "Hundreds of RAF pilots and personnel have spent months away from their families, working round-the-clock alongside our allies to keep Europe’s skies safe.

The UK’s successful leadership of NATO’s air policing mission in Estonia, resulting in the interception of dozens of Russian aircraft by the RAF, sends a strong message to Putin that we stand united with our allies against any threat to our borders."

Personnel from 140EAW were held at a moment’s notice to intercept Russian aircraft that do not liaise with NATO-controlled regional air traffic agencies and do not file flight plans, thus failing to adhere to international norms. This, in turn, creates a flight safety risk that must be investigated and monitored by NATO aircraft to ensure the safety of all air traffic in the region.

After taking full leadership of the air policing mission, RAF Typhoons flew QRA intercepts on a regular basis – including a 21-day period in which Russian fighters, long-range bombers, and reconnaissance aircraft were intercepted 21 times.

During the course of the deployment, operations were conducted in coordination with the Portuguese and Romanian Air Forces, which jointly led the NATO air policing mission in Lithuania.

Defence Minister Baroness Goldie DL said: "Following a successful deployment to Estonia from our strategic airbase at Lossiemouth, I pay tribute to the commitment and dedication of personnel from 140 Expeditionary Air Wing for their role in protecting NATO airspace over the last four months. The day to day, personal sacrifices made not only by the individuals but also their families in the name of duty are nothing short of commendable. It is reflective of the important contribution to our defence capability from all parts of the UK.

Our work with European partners and our NATO Allies continues to provide the backbone to European security, of which our pilots, aircrews and RAF personnel have all formed a central part. They should be proud of what they have achieved"

While deployed to Estonia, the RAF has also taken part in a number of major exercises with NATO allies, including Exercise Air Defender, the largest NATO Air Deployment exercise since the end of the Cold War, with more than 250 aircraft and 10,000 personnel taking part from 25 nations. The RAF contribution to the exercise combined Typhoons from 140 EAW based in Estonia and 903 EAW based in Cyprus, and included F-35, Voyager and A-400M aircraft flying from the UK.

05 July, 2023

Advanced £870 million radar contract could sustain 600 UK jobs...

An £870 million five-year contract has been awarded to upgrade radar capabilities on the RAF Typhoon, fitting one of the world’s most advanced radars.

The UK government has confirmed that an £870 million five-year contract has been awarded to BAE Systems and Leonardo UK to upgrade radar capabilities on the RAF Typhoon, fitting the fighter jets with one of the world’s most advanced radars – the European Common Radar System (ECRS) Mk2.

Following last year’s announcement at the 2022 Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), in which Defence committed to a £2.35 billion investment to several upgrades for Typhoon, this is the first contract allocated from that major and complex investment and will see the completion of the development and integration of the ECRS Mk2.

The state-of-the-art radar will transform the Typhoon’s control of the air, bringing a world-leading electronic warfare capability which will allow the aircraft to simultaneously detect, identify, and track multiple targets in the air and on the ground. ECRS Mk2 will be integrated onto RAF Typhoon Tranche 3 aircraft and offered to other nations that operate the aircraft, boosting UK defence exports.

27 May, 2023

Permanent Representatives to NATO visits Operation Azotize

Permanent Representatives to NATO from nations across the Alliance recently attended Amari Airbase to witness the ongoing work of the RAF’s 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) who are undertaking NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission.

The UK’s Permanent Representative (PermRep) to NATO, David Quarrey CMG, discussed various current affairs matters with the EAW command team, including the current intelligence picture across NATO’s Eastern Flank and the upcoming NATO Summit at Vilnius. He also witnessed a training scramble involving IX (B) Sqn Typhoon fighter jets, showcasing the speed at which the RAF can respond to any potential threat.

Wg Cdr MacColl, CO 140 EAW said: "This was an excellent opportunity to showcase the work that we have already achieved here and the brilliant training opportunities that we have planned in the near future. I believe our discussions with Mr Quarrey regarding upcoming ACE exercises have given him an insight into the art of the possible within the wider NATO construct and how the Alliance can effectively deter, disperse and defend against any potential adversary."

23 May, 2023

RAF Typhoons And Poseidon take vital role In Nato Missile Defence exercise

Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets and Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft have contributed to a massive NATO missile defence exercise over North Scotland and in the surrounding waters of the Atlantic and North Sea.

Taking place throughout May, Exercise Formidable Shield was led by the US Navy’s 6th Fleet and involved 13 NATO allied and partner nations practising operating against subsonic, supersonic and ballistic enemy assets using allied aircraft, ships and ground forces.

RAF Lossiemouth was a key location for the largest NATO exercise of its type to happen this year. The bi-annual exercise involved more than 20 ships, 35 aircraft and an array of ground units consisting of radars, surface-to-air missile systems, High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems known as HIMARS and nearly 4,000 NATO personnel.

Captain “Uni” Nucciarellii, Chief Test Pilot for the Italian Air Force said: "This exercise has challenged our capabilities and made us a stronger fighting force, as we continue to adapt our tactics and procedures to evolving threats”. During the exercise, the Italian Air Force Typhoons successfully executed a Defence Counter Air tasking over the MOD Hebrides Range, an action used to counter an attack from an aerial enemy."

12 April, 2023

RAF Typhoons policing NATO's Eastern border

Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets have recently returned to Estonia to police the airspace of NATO’s Eastern border with a backdrop of conflict in Ukraine.

Operation Azotize began in March 2023 and is the second deployment of Typhoons to Eastern Europe since the Russian invasion in February last year. In March 2022 the RAF deployed to Romania for Operation Biloxi to cover the southern portion of NATO’s East border.

Both rotations were planned well before Russia’s incursion as part of an ongoing NATO commitment to provide air policing across its Eastern flank.

The 2022 Typhoon detachment to Romania contributed to 24/7 cover of the region’s airspace, but also took part in various exercises. These included a multinational tank exercise involving 250 armoured vehicles; a huge US-led training effort based in North Macedonia but stretching across Eastern Europe involving 17 nations; and travelling to Turkey to test pilot capabilities with the Turkish, Pakistani, Jordanian and Azerbaijani air forces.

15 March, 2023

RAF and German Air Force Typhoons intercept Russian aircraft in first joint NATO air policing scramble

The British and German fighters escorted a Russian IL78 Midas air-to-air refuelling aircraft, which was not responding to communications, near Estonian airspace.

A Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jet operating from Ämari Air Base in Estonia has carried out the first joint NATO Air Policing interception alongside a German Air Force Typhoon. The pair of jets launched on Tuesday, 14 March to intercept a Russian air-to-air refuelling aircraft that was flying close to Estonian airspace.

The pair of Typhoon jets were scrambled to escort the IL78 Midas, which was flying between St Petersburg and Kaliningrad, after it failed to communicate with air traffic control in Estonia. Following a successful visual identification and escort, the pair of Typhoons were re-tasked to intercept an AN148 airliner, also passing Estonian airspace.

The RAF and German Air Force are conducting planned Joint NATO Air Policing, a first for the two NATO Allies. The interception is however a routine NATO mission for the Typhoons which provides reassurance that the UK and Germany together with other NATO allies stand with their Estonian ally at this time of tension.

Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, said: "NATO continues to form the bedrock of our collective security. This joint UK and German deployment in the Baltics clearly demonstrates our collective resolve to challenge any potential threat to NATO’s borders, whilst demonstrating our combined strength."

A Typhoon pilot from IX(Bomber) Squadron, operating as part of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing, together with a German colleague were on standby on Quick Reaction Alert duty when the scramble was called.  He said:  "We were scrambled to intercept an aircraft that was approaching Estonian airspace. We identified and monitored it as it transited close to NATO airspace.
Any aircraft that are not communicating with Air Traffic Control or on a recognised flight plan will be intercepted by us to ensure we know who they are and maintain flight safety for all airspace users.  As a fighter pilot this was a routine business, even though I was flying alongside a German colleague.  It is clear that all of our training and hard work paid off as we seamlessly operated together."

The Royal Air Force is deployed on Operation Azotize in Estonia to conduct the long-established NATO Baltic Air Policing mission.  During March the mission is being led by the German Air Force, before handing over to the RAF.  Joint missions will be flow till the end of April.

06 March, 2023

RAF to fly joint missions with German Air Force as UK prepares to lead NATO air policing in Estonia

The joint missions are the first of their kind, with the aim of full NATO integrated air policing missions in future.

Royal Air Force and German Air Force Typhoon jets will be flying joint air policing missions in Estonia for the first time, as the UK prepares to lead NATO’s mission in Estonia.

These integrated missions will be the first of their kind, with the eventual aim of carrying out full joint and integrated NATO Air Policing missions in the future.

Around 300 RAF personnel from the 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) will soon be in Estonia, as the RAF prepares to take the lead on the long-established NATO air policing mission from the German Air Force for four months, starting from April.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

"Our RAF personnel in Estonia are undertaking a vital role, ensuring the security of Europe’s skies and bolstering NATO’s presence in eastern Europe.

Joint operations of this kind, demonstrate the strength and unity of the NATO Alliance and our shared resolve to maintain peace and security across the region."

The EAW will be carrying out the long-established NATO Air Policing mission from Estonia. IX (Bomber) Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth are operating the RAF Typhoons that have deployed from Scotland.

Wing Commander Scott Maccoll, Commanding Officer of 140 EAW said:

"Today marks a great ‘first’ for our two Air Forces. We have been working together for some time and the level of cooperation has now reached a new level. It continues to be an absolute pleasure to work with our German allies on all aspects of our mission - from maintenance and operation of the jets to planning and logistic activities.

I would also like to thank our Estonian hosts; they are vital to what we have achieved here. What better way to demonstrate the strength and unity of the NATO Alliance, than through successful, shared operations such as this?"

To operate successfully side by side, personnel from the two air forces have trained together to understand each other’s processes including maintenance and operating procedures. Both air forces fly the Eurofighter Typhoon, but there are national differences this is the first time a joint detachment will fully integrate all aspects of operations. Jets will now fly together on live NATO controlled intercepts.

The air policing mission is part of the UK’s wider NATO commitment in Estonia, alongside the presence of around a thousand British soldiers as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.

12 July, 2022

RAF Voyager demonstrates large aircraft refuelling capability.....

Photo RAF / Crown copyright

A Royal Air Force Voyager has demonstrated an often forgotten capability, by carrying out an air-to-air refuelling training sortie with a C-130J Hercules.

The objective of the sortie was to provide training in the complex operational processes needed to refuel an aircraft in the air. The ability to do that is a key component of Royal Air Force flying operations. The Voyager is along with being a key element of strategic air transport for the RAF, it is also a duel role as the sole aerial refuelling aircraft meaning it is a true force-multiplier.

"Voyager is usually known for refuelling fast jet aircraft, acting as a force multiplier through extending their endurance on task three-fold.  However, in the context of C-130J operations, Voyager is more likely to be used to extend range, allowing the C-130J even greater reach without the need to land and refuel.  Training C-130J crews to safely receive fuel from Voyager remains as important now as ever."

Wing Commander Udall
Officer Commanding 101 Squadron

Photo RAF / Crown copyright

The concept of a force-multiplier means that as an aircraft the Voyager has the capability to increase the combat potential of other aircraft by being able to refuel them when required.  This in turn allows RAF combat jets, such as the Typhoon and F-35B, the ability to increase their time-on-task or range to conduct operations.

Air to Air Refuelling, also however allows larger RAF aircraft, such as the Atlas A400M and Hercules C130J, the ability to support humanitarian missions and airdrops in austere or difficult locations.  A recent example being when an RAF Hercules deployed to the Falkland Islands to conduct Exercise Austral Endurance.  This exercise saw the Hercules conduct a number of sorties dropping supplies onto the Sky-Blu Field Station in the Antarctic.

Without the Voyager, the Hercules would not have been able to reach Palmer Land, home of Sky-Blu and drop these vital supplies. Other examples were the enabling of C-130J humanitarian airdrops onto Mount Sinjar in 2014, and long-range parachute insertions into Eastern Europe that have been carried out over the last few years.

Photo RAF / Crown copyright

RAF Voyagers also train to conduct Air to Air Refuelling with other partner nation’s fast jets, USN EA-18 Growler, French and Qatari Rafales together with Canadian CF-18’s, being examples of refuelling sorties carried out this year.  Most recently RAF Voyagers have been conducting AAR sorties with USMC F/A-18 Hornets as part of the NATO Air response in Eastern Europe to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Voyager, therefore, remains a vital component of the air-mobility fleet which gives the RAF the ability to enhance the delivery of air power worldwide.

11 July, 2022

RAF fighter aircraft sent to Finland and Sweden for joint training

The UK's Royal Air Force has deployed Typhoon FGR4 and F-35B Lightning jets to Finland, and Typhoon FGR4 jets to Sweden, for integrated fighter aircraft training as part of an increased presence in the region.

The deployments, which took place over the last month at the request of the host nations, allowed the partner air forces to develop their joint tactics and strengthen their ability to operate alongside each other.

Two F-35Bs and four Typhoons conducted high-end warfighting training with Finnish F-18 Hornets and Swedish Gripen aircraft, underlining the UK’s commitment to strengthening our collective defence capabilities.

The deployments are a practical demonstration of the mutual security assurance declarations that the UK signed with these nations in May, as they progress their respective applications to join NATO. All three nations already work together through the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force, which is a coalition of 10 member nations who cooperate to maintain the security of Northern Europe.

Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, said:  "Finland and Sweden are important defence partners and we welcome their applications to join NATO, which will make the alliance stronger as we face a renewed threat in Europe.

These deployments highlight our determination to enhance that partnership and ensure our forces can work together seamlessly."

The F-35 deployment to Finland came after two US F-35A visited for an air show in June. The F-35B’s arrival was of particular interest to the Finns as they recently announced that they will purchase F-35 aircraft. The UK Lightning Force will continue to develop their partnership with the Finnish Air Force as they integrate their new aircraft.

Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said: "The Joint Expeditionary Force contributes to regional security and stability. Joint exercises, like the one here in Såtenäs, strengthen our ability to operate together in response to a crisis in our neighbourhood. This is particularly important in today’s challenging security environment."

The fighter jets were supported by teams of specialists from RAF Marham and RAF Lossiemouth. A Voyager aircraft from RAF Brize Norton also provided air-to-air refuelling to extend the duration of the combat sorties and an A400M Atlas deployed the support team to Sweden.

Working with similarly advanced air forces such as the Finnish and Swedish also provides an opportunity to learn from each other and identify areas of mutual benefit. The deployed teams spent time further integrating their systems, so that they can share information quickly on the exercise and in the future.

27 June, 2022

Spanish order further expands Typhoon’s key role in securing European air defence - video

A major new order by Spain to expand its frontline fleet with 20 new Eurofighter Typhoons underlines the importance of the aircraft's role as the backbone of European defence. The announcement made at the ILA Berlin International Air Show today will see the number of Typhoons in Europe increase to 545 aircraft, delivered or on order.

Every Eurofighter aircraft is produced by an industry consortium made up of Airbus (Germany and Spain), BAE Systems (United Kingdom) and Leonardo (Italy).

The order will see the Eurofighter consortium deliver aircraft for the Spanish Air Force equipped with an advanced new electronically-scanning radar, ensuring it is ready to be part of the future battlespace into the 2060s and beyond.

BAE Systems leads the overall design, development, manufacture, upgrade and support for Typhoon aircraft in the UK. BAE Systems is responsible for manufacturing more than a third of the components for every Spanish aircraft, including the aircraft’s front fuselage and tail, under a contract worth in excess of £500m.

Andrea Thompson, Managing Director – Europe & International for BAE Systems’ Air sector, and Chair of the Eurofighter Supervisory Board, said: "The Spanish Government’s commitment to purchasing additional Typhoons reinforces its position as one of the world’s most successful combat military aircraft. Every day we are seeing the important role which it plays in delivering air security in the skies over Europe and this investment only strengthens the international partnership which Eurofighter underpins.

The fact that an existing Typhoon operator is committing to buying additional aircraft only reinforces their confidence in the aircraft and its performance. Our people will now work alongside our Eurofighter partners to ensure we provide the Spanish Air Force with the aircraft it needs to secure its skies for decades to come."

The announcement by Spain follows an order for 38 new Typhoons for Germany in November 2020. Work is now underway on the production of components for these aircraft at BAE Systems' facilities in Samlesbury and Warton, Lancashire, with engineering teams supporting work on advanced new radar and sensors.

More than 5,000 BAE Systems employees directly support the Typhoon programme in the UK, supporting more than 10,000 jobs in the UK economy as a whole.

The order from Spain maintains continuity of Typhoon production in the UK beyond the middle of the decade.

The final assembly of the aircraft for Spain will be undertaken by Airbus in Getafe, Spain, with deliveries scheduled to commence from 2025. The Typhoon aircraft will replace Spain’s ageing F-18 Hornet aircraft based at Gando Air Base in the Canary Islands.

Want me in your inbox? Follow here for email updates Air101 here.