RAF Typhoons hand over NATO Romania duties to Canada


RAF Typhoons hand over NATO Romania duties to Canada

FOUR ROYAL Air Force Typhoon FGR4 fighter aircraft departed
Romania on 28 August, ending the UK’s five-month leadership of NATO’s enhanced
air policing mission in the country. Since April the Typhoons – from 3(F)
Squadron, RAF Coningsby – had spent alternate weeks on high-readiness standby
to defend NATO’s airspace over the Black Sea, augmenting the Romanian Air
Force’s existing air defence capability. The Royal Canadian Air Force is now
preparing to assume responsibility for the NATO mission, while two of the RAF’s
Typhoons proceed to Estonia to join NATO training with the British Army.


The Typhoons deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, near
the Black Sea port of Constanta, as part of the RAF’s 135 Expeditionary Air
Wing under the code-name Operation BILOXI. More than 300 regular and reserve
RAF personnel from 16 RAF units – supported by Royal Engineers soldiers – were
involved in the mission. Typhoons launched once in response to Russian air
activity over the Black Sea, and flew more than 280 sorties to support NATO
training with Romanian, Hungarian and Bulgarian armed forces. Towards the end
of 135 EAW’s tour of duty, eight of its personnel were awarded the Romanian Air
Force’s highest peacetime honour for their work in the country.


135 EAW’s Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Andy Coe, said:
“As we hand over NATO duties to our colleagues in the Royal Canadian Air Force,
the men and women of 135 EAW can be proud of what we have achieved. In our five
months here, we were ambassadors for the RAF Whole Force, and for a truly
global Britain. We learned much from our Romanian friends, even as we passed on
our experience to them and to our other allies in the region. It’s been a
privilege to lead a team who have embraced NATO’s principles with complete
enthusiasm and dedication.”

The RCAF’s Air Task Force Romania, comprising 135
specialists from across the Canadian Armed Forces, is preparing for a vital
NATO certification on 31 August – the final stage in its preparation to lead
the enhanced air policing mission. Four RCAF CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft
from 409 Tactical Fighter Squadron arrived in Romania on 20 August, and will be
patrolling the skies shortly after the NATO certification.


Air Task Force Romania Commander Lieutenant Colonel Mark
Hickey said: “As we bid farewell to our British friends, my entire team’s focus
is now on supporting Canada’s allies here in Romania and across the wider
region. Canada will always stand up for the freedom and collective security of
our NATO allies; that’s why we are happy to assume leadership of this important
mission. My team will make Romania and Canada proud.”

© MOD Crown Copyright 2017

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