RAF hand over NATO Romania duties to Canada

Four Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4 fighter aircraft have left Romania marking the end of the UK’s five-month leadership of NATO’s enhanced air policing mission in the country.

Since April, the Typhoons had spent alternate weeks on high-readiness standby to defend NATO’s airspace over the Black Sea, enhancing 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, took part 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.

As the 135 EAW’s tour of duty neared its conclusion, 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.”

image © 2017 DND-MDN Canada

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