CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF VISITS ROYAL AIR
FORCE PERSONNEL ON NATO MISSION
The Chief of the Air Staff has visited Royal Air Force personnel
conducting the NATO air policing mission which safeguards the integrity of
Allies’ sovereign airspace.
On arrival at Mihael Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania, Air Chief
Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier was greeted by Wing Commander Andrew Coe, Commanding
Officer 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) and given a tour of the detachment
which operates four Typhoon aircraft.
The multi-role fighters have been based in Romania since May as
part of wider NATO assurance measures designed to demonstrate the commitment of
Allies to collective defence and deterrence.
After meeting personnel from the individual sections which
comprise the EAW, ACM Hiller met with his Romanian counterpart, Lieutenant
General Laurian Anastasof whom he thanked for the support afforded to the RAF
ACM Hillier said: “This is our
first significant detachment into Romania, and demonstrating that commitment I
know is reassuring to them. It’s also an important message for the UK overall
in NATO is to say that the breadth of our capability is significant.
“I think it very much
demonstrates with air power, what the Royal Air Force can contribute for a
relatively small detachment, we’re really sending an important strategic
message which is definitely heard by others.”
The Chief of the Air Staff then visited the NATO Command and Air
Operation Centre (CAOC) which monitors NATO airspace over an area greater in
size than the continental United States.
Situated north of Madrid, CAOC Torrejón has been fully operational
since October 2014 forming part of a new NATO command structure established
following the Lisbon Summit in 2010.
The CAOC monitors NATO airspace from the Canary Islands to the
Turkish-Syrian border, from the Azores to Romania, an area covering about 6,500
kilometres from east to west, including all the Mediterranean, the Black Sea
and part of the Atlantic.
While receiving a brief from the CAOC Commander, Lieutenant General Ruben Servert, news came through that an
RAF Typhoon had been scrambled in Romania in response to Russian military
aircraft over the Black Sea. ACM Hillier was able to observe first-hand how the
multi-national team, which includes 17 RAF personnel, controlled the launch of
fighter aircraft from four different locations to intercept the Russian Tu-22 Backfire
common with their colleagues in Romania personnel were then afforded the
opportunity to put any questions regarding the RAF to ACM Hillier and the Chief of the Air Staff’s Warrant Officer (CASWO), Warrant
Officer Jon Crossley who said: “There is a real desire on my part and the
senior leadership team to make people feel comfortable in being able to put
forward their thoughts and opinions.”
He added, “I firmly believe these opportunities allow people to
feel empowered that they have a say in the future of their Air Force.”
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