May 3, 2019 – NATO forces have considerably strengthened their presence in the Baltic region. Over the next two months, the Alliance plans to hold a series of major ground and naval exercises in the area.
A unit of four Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft (RAF) officially commenced the patrol mission on the Baltic states on Thursday. British aircraft have replaced the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) aircraft, which have been on a rotating basis since August.
The air policing mission was handed over to the RAF in a solemn ceremony with Estonian, British and German military personnel at the Amari air base near Tallinn, Estonia, some 200km west of Russia’s border with Russia.
The commander of the Estonian Armed Forces, Major General Martin Herem, delivered the outgoing Luftwaffe pilots for his service and welcomed the British contingent, part of the 121st Expeditionary Air Wing, saying that his presence shows the commitment of the United Kingdom in its allies.
“The participation of NATO members in various missions and operations, such as protecting the airspace of the Baltic states, shows that their commitments to both the alliance and its allies are not just signatures on a piece of paper,” Herem said, according to a press release from the General Staff of the Estonian Armed Forces.
The Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) do not have suitable fighters to carry out patrol missions, so they delegate to NATO the protection of their airspace.
Last week an electronic reconnaissance aircraft was sighted near the Crimean coast in the Black Sea, according to information from the monitoring portal PlaneRadar.
According to the portal, at 6:20 am Moscow time, a US Air Force electronic intelligence aircraft, a Boeing RC-135V with the number on board 64-14846, took off from Suda airbase, located on the Greek island of Crete.
Five minutes later, another plane, a Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker with the board number 63-7999, took off to perform refueling in the air.
At 07:40 Moscow time (01:15), the aircraft arrived in the Black Sea basin, and at 9:15 am (0315), was making a reconnaissance flight along the Russian coast.