Britain to send four fighter jets to protect the Baltics

British Typhoon fighter jets will deploy to the Ämari Air Base in Estonia in May this year in support of the Baltic Air Policing Mission.

The four Typhoons from No 6 Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, will deploy for four months, the British defence secretary, Michael Fallon, announced on 5 February.

As confirmed by the Secretary of State for Defence, the RAF will deploy four Typhoon aircraft and support personnel to the Baltic this year to provide a vital contribution to NATO’s collective security. The multi-role Typhoon aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth will provide air policing of NATO’s eastern flank; this will be a very similar role to the highly successful Baltic Air Policing mission carried out during 2014,” Group Captain Graham Pemberton, the Typhoon Force Commander, said, according to the Royal Air Force.

Speaking at the NATO defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Fallon also confirmed the UK will be the lead nation in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2017 and then on rotation thereafter. The VJTF is a multinational force that will act as a “spearhead force”, forming NATO’s first response in the face of aggression. Estonia is also expected to join and provide troops for the force.

The Baltic Air Policing mission was established in 2004, to assist Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania who have no airborne air defence capability of their own and was extended indefinitely in February 2012. The aim of the mission is to prevent unauthorised incursion into the airspace of the Baltic states and its most frequent duty is intercepting Russian aircraft and escorting them from the area. To the west of the Baltic states’ airspace is an air corridor often used by aircraft traveling to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad from territorial Russia.

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Cover: RAF No 11 Squadron Typhoons/Credit: Eurofighter GmbH.

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