The UK takes over responsibility for NATO air policing in the Baltic from Germany

The UK takes over responsibility for NATO air policing in the Baltic from Germany

German air force units handed over command of NATO’s Baltic Air Police mission in Estonia to the Royal Air Force (RAF) during a handover ceremony on 5 April.

The handover ceremony of the NATO Baltic Air Police mission in Estonia took place at Amari Air Base on the day Finland joined the alliance, celebrating the anniversary of NATO’s creation.

Throughout April, the two units will work together as a unified force to protect Baltic skies and strengthen security in the region. Subsequently, the German Air Force unit will leave Estonia after completing its five-month tour of duty, and the Royal Air Force’s 140th Expeditionary Air Wing will take over the NATO mission until August.

Representatives from NATO, Estonia, Germany and the United Kingdom attended the handover ceremony, which formally marked the end of German leadership in the Air Police mission and the beginning of British rule.

“What a privilege it is for the UK to work with Germany to deliver NATO’s first integrated air policing mission. This combined leadership paves the way for future interoperability across a wide range of NATO allies and partners. These are uncertain times, but 74 years after NATO’s formation, the Baltic skies are in good hands. Today, Finland is in the Alliance. NATO is also strengthened by the entry, which is a significant milestone,” said Air Vice Marshal Robinson, Air Commander, RAF 11 Group.

“Here we saw the culmination of a long process to develop this level of coordination and I congratulate both units for this great achievement, the Estonian Armed Forces and our hosts here in Amari set an example. Coordination”, commented Brigadier General Ralf Radats, Deputy Commander of NATO’s Combined Air Operations Center in Germany. He said.

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General Ralf Radatz added: “Since 2014, Amari has conducted a series of allied combat operations while Russia illegally annexed Crimea and NATO responded with assurance measures. With today’s ceremony, we convey an important message: the work continues. It is especially moving as today we celebrate the day NATO signed the North Atlantic Treaty on April 4, 1949.

During the eight-week period, the two units will jointly conduct Combined Baltic Air Policing, conducting joint rapid reaction warning operations to demonstrate their tactical coordination. In March, both Luftwaffe and RAF Typhoons were sent three times to intercept Russian military aircraft near NATO airspace.

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