Canada, Belgium and Germany take up NATO Air Policing Duties

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Canada takes over NATO's enhanced Air Policing in Romania today. A handover ceremony was held on August 29th, 2018 from the United Kingdom for the Block 48 of NATO's enhanced Air Policing in Romania. photo via RCAF on twitter.

The Royal Canadian Air Force will conduct air patrols alongside the Romanian Air Force over the Black Sea starting September 1st, 2018. The Canadian contingent replaces the a detachment of UK Royal Air Force jets which have been conducting the mission since April. During the deployment, the Royal Air Force conducted eight scrambles in response to a total of 20 Russian aircraft flying near Romanian airspace.

Among the several VIPs present at the ceremony was the British Ambassador, Mr Andrew Noble, who said:“ “Today marks the conclusion of the second year in which RAF Typhoons have helped to defend and secure the skies of this important Black Sea flank of the NATO Alliance.”

This mission is in response to Russia’s use of military force against its neighbours and its military build-up in the region. In contrast, NATO’s aim is to contribute to European defence and security by preventing conflict, protecting our allies and preserving the peace.”

Mr Noble was joined by the Canadian Ambassador, Mr Kevin Hamilton, as well as the Chief of the Romanian Air Force, General Viorel Pana, and Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group RAF, Air Vice-Marshal Harvey Smyth.

Also present were personnel from the Royal Canadian and the Romanian Air Forces. Commanding 135 EAW throughout the mission was Wing Commander Chris Ball who said:“Today my team’s role in NATO Air Policing draws to a close, for now, and it is a great honour to handover to the Royal Canadian Air Force as they also prepare to make their contribution to our collective defence in this region for the second year. I know they will do a fantastic job and we are, of course, both working hand-in-hand with the Romanian Air Force who never stop providing defence in this region.

”Describing his relationship with NATO, Wg Cdr Ball added: “I am fortunate to have worked in NATO for several years, and so I can say with confidence that this is a forward thinking, strong alliance, that remains defensive in nature.”General Pana in turn thanked the RAF for its role conducting Quick Re

Starting in September, Belgian and German fighter aircraft will take responsibility for patrolling the skies as part of NATO’s Baltic air-policing mission. Operating out of Siauliai airbase in Lithuania, four Belgian F-16s will lead the mission, with four German Eurofighter aircraft supporting them out of Ämari airbase in Estonia. The detachments replace French, Portuguese and Spanish air force units which have patrolled the Baltic region since May 2018.

NATO’s air policing mission in the Baltics was launched in 2004 after Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia joined the alliance. Since then, Allies have taken turns to guard the skies over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as the three Baltic countries do not have their own fighter aircraft. “This is a clear example of Alliance solidarity in action”, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said. ‎“In recent years, we have seen a considerable increase in Russian military air activity along the borders of NATO Allies in the region. NATO aircraft take to the skies when aircraft do not follow a flight plan or do not speak to air traffic control. We are always vigilant”.

UK Chief of the Air Staff Sir Stephen Hillier marking the conclusion of this year’s RAF NATO deployment to conduct enhanced Air Policing in Romania. Photo courtesy NATO.

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