Defence Secretary pays tribute to Romanian partnership

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has paid a visit to Royal Air Force personnel serving in Romania as part of NATO’s Air Policing mission.

Since April, a detachment of four Typhoon fight jets from 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) have been relocated to South Eastern Romania. In the five months following, the EAW has flown alongside the Romanian Air Force to jointly police the skies over the Black Sea. For Williamson, who during his visit addressed representatives from both air forces, the mission demonstrates both that RAF’s capability and the importance of close collaboration.

“This deployment, Op BILOXI, is an excellent example of why the RAF, in its one hundredth year, is a class above air forces globally,” said Williamson. “It is my privilege to meet the service personnel that are serving with their Romanian allies, under a NATO banner.”

The Defence Secretary’s appearance at Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase rounded off his first official visit in-post to the country. Earlier in the day, Williamson met with his Romanian counterpart, Defence Minister Mihai Fifor, in Bucharest to discuss regional security across the Black Sea and defence collaboration between the two nations.

While at the airbase, Williamson also reiterated his earlier announcement of a Short Term Engagement Team from the British Army. This contingent will support the Romanian-led Multinational Brigade South-East as part of NATO’s Forward Presence in the Black Sea to enhance security and deter aggression in the region.

He added: “This mission demonstrates NATO’s flexible capabilities, underlining the commitment of Allies to each other, as well as resolve and readiness. That is why we as the UK are committed to NATO and Romania.”

Joining the Defence Secretary at the airbase, the Romanian Defence Minister also paid tribute to the partnership between the two countries, saying: “We believe that the presence of British partners in Romania represents not only a consistent contribution to the implementation of Assurance Measures, but also sends a strong message of allied solidarity.”

The EAW comprises four RAF Lossiemouth-based Typhoon aircraft from No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron supported by around 150 personnel drawn from stations across Great Britain. These aircraft form are part of the UK’s contribution to reassurance measures to ensure the operational capability of NATO’s eastern flank.

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