RAF fast jets have taken to the skies as part of NATO’s mission to defend Europe, less than 24 hours after Russian forces entered Ukraine.
These aircraft are part of pre-planned Enhanced Vigilance Activity, which is a NATO-led Operation initiated due to the unfolding events in Ukraine. This activity providing air support ready to defend the region and is a robust response to Russian aggression, contributing to the security of Europe.
The RAF’s contribution is in the form of additional Typhoon FGR4 aircraft, operating from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. The Typhoons, armed with state-of-the-art Air-to-Air missiles and a full suite of defensive aids, are patrolling NATO airspace over Poland and Romania, once more demonstrating the UK’s unwavering commitment to the NATO Alliance.
The Typhoons are supported by RAF Voyager Air-to-air refuelling aircraft from RAF Brize Norton, who offer additional fuel for the fighters so enabling greater range and endurance showing the reach of UK airpower to support NATO’s defence mission.
Air Vice-Marshal Phil Robinson, the Air Officer Commanding 11 Group said "RAF Typhoons working in partnership with our allies are continuing to demonstrate our commitment to NATO. We stand ready to defend Europe and the Atlantic region against further aggression. I am incredibly proud of the courage and commitment of our aircrew operating across the region and of all our personnel who are supporting them."
UK’s substantial contribution to NATO’s uplift in Eastern Europe is strengthening the Alliance’s Defences on land, sea and air, amid ongoing tensions with Russia. The UK is doubling the number of personnel in Estonia and sending additional equipment, including tanks and armoured fighting vehicles. These troops and equipment will begin moving to Estonia today.
The Royal Welsh battlegroup, which includes armoured vehicles and personnel, will leave Sennelager in Germany and bases in the UK and begin to arrive in Estonia during the coming week. Apache helicopters will soon be making their way to conduct exercises with our Allies and partners in Eastern Europe.
Four additional UK Typhoon jets have also landed in Cyprus and will shortly begin to patrol the skies with NATO Allies in Eastern Europe. HMS Trent – a UK Warship – has already begun conducting patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea alongside NATO Allies from Canada, Italy, Spain and Turkey. HMS Diamond is preparing to set sail in the coming days for the Eastern Mediterranean and will join up with NATO allies.
The majority of the 350 Royal Marines of 45 Commando committed to Poland have already arrived. We have also put 1,000 more British personnel at readiness in the UK to support humanitarian response if needed. The UK is playing a leading role within NATO and shaping the international community’s response to Russia. It is also Europe’s largest contributor to NATO; having deployed more troops to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence than any other Ally, and HMS Prince of Wales leads the Alliance’s Maritime High Readiness Force and supplied Ukraine with light, anti-armour, defensive weapon systems as well as an additional defensive package of body armour, helmets and combat boots.