Britain and Germany are set to participate in joint air operations over Estonia for the first time, Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has announced.
Around 300 RAF personnel from the 140 Expeditionary Air Wing are to be sent to the Baltic country – which shares a border with Russia – to lead NATO air policing operations.
British pilots will work alongside Typhoon jets from the German Air Force on “integrated” missions live.
Mr Wallace hailed NATO’s display of ‘unity’, adding: ‘Our RAF personnel in Estonia play a vital role in keeping Europe’s skies secure and strengthening NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe.
“Joint operations of this type demonstrate the strength and unity of the NATO alliance and our common determination to maintain peace and security in the region.”
THE UNITED KINGDOM takes over from Germany to lead NATO’s long-standing mission in Estonia – a member of the military alliance – for the next four months.
Wing Commander Scott Maccoll, Commander of the 140th Air Expeditionary Wing, said: “We have worked together for some time and the level of cooperation has now reached a new level.
“It continues to be an absolute pleasure to work with our German allies on all aspects of our mission – from jet maintenance and operations to planning and logistics activities.
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“What better way to demonstrate the strength and unity of the NATO Alliance than through successful and shared operations like this?”
Lieutenant-Colonel Christoph Hachmeister, Commander of the German Detachment, said: “Working with our Royal Air Force allies in a live mission is what we have been looking forward to since the start of this mission.
“Now we can demonstrate interoperability in these challenging times to protect our Baltic partners and NATO’s eastern flank.
“The many years of good collaboration practices will be the basis for successful cooperation.”
Labour’s shadow defense secretary John Healey said his party’s commitment to NATO cooperation with allies like Germany is “unwavering”.
“But the Conservatives’ mismanagement of defense projects such as Wedgetails and cuts to military transport aircraft cast doubt on the UK’s obligations to NATO,” he added.