UK, German Air Forces Prepare for First Joint NATO Air Policing Mission

The UK and Germany are conducting exercises to prepare for their first integrated NATO air policing mission.

The preparation will train a Royal Air Force detachment to take over air policing from the German Air Force in Estonia in April.

Before the official management transfer, the air forces will conduct joint sorties in March.

Support from the German Air Force will remain after the Royal Air Force takes over the post in Estonia.

Combining Strengths

The British detachment comprises airmen from the Lossiemouth-based IX Bomber Squadron’s Expeditionary Air Wing.

Their counterpart includes the 71 Tactical Air Wing leading air and ground training.

“NATO Air Policing is our bread and butter business, but what’s different about this particular deployment is the fact that we are operating as a combined unit with our German counterparts,” Royal Air Force Air Marshal Harvey Smyth stated.

“Under this construct, we learn from each other more rapidly, and combine our strengths to become greater than the sum of the parts.”

“NATO is the cornerstone of Europe’s defence, and proving our two nations can work seamlessly together in this way, providing essential Control of the Air capabilities on our Eastern Flank, proves to our potential adversaries that the NATO alliance is stronger than ever.”

‘High Degree of Interoperability’

The ongoing training includes Quick Reaction Alert procedures and air-to-air refueling using a British Voyager aerial refueling and military transport aircraft.

It also involves simultaneous pilot training led by 18 German Air Force engineers to test live-intercept interoperability between British and German Eurofighter variants.

Typhoons and engineers from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwaver 71 "Richthofen" arrive at RAF Lossiemouth ahead of the their combined deployment to Estonia. They will be conducting in corss-training between the the German Air Force and RAF Typhoon assigned personel and to fly Qucik Reation Alert and Combined Baltic Air Policing training.
British and German Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft are inspected at RAF Lossiemouth. Photo: UK Royal Air Force

“There is a high degree of interoperability with our Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, this joint training provided a fantastic opportunity to develop our joint tactics and procedures and take what we have learned forward to Op Azotize,” IX Bomber Squadron Commander Richard Leask said.

“This week was important to train and develop together ahead of delivering Combined Baltic Air Policing. The lessons we learnt in the air and on the ground will pay dividends when we meet again in Estonia,” German Air Force’s Major Lars Hansen added.

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