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First RAF Typhoon Lands In Estonia To Join German Detachment Supporting NATO Baltic Air Policing

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Typhoon Estonia
The first RAF Typhoon arrives at Amari, Estonia (Image credit: German Air Force)

British and German Eurofighters are integrating to carry out joint QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) service in the Baltic region.

For the next couple of months, RAF and GAF Eurofighter jets will carry out QRA service from Amari air base, Estonia, where NATO aircraft support the BAP (Baltic Air Policing) mission. Before it takes over the leadership of the NATO mission, the RAF detachment will be integrated into the German-led one in Estonia and, after the transfer of authority in April, the two detachments will remain integrated throughout April.

The joint QRA service will be conducted with one Eurofighter from each air force and, in order to achieve this integration, the personnel from the two air forces conducted preparation work operating together during a deployment to RAF Lossiemouth of a contingent of GAF aircraft and personnel from the 71 Tactical Air Wing ‘Richthofen’ based at Wittmund, Germany.

In the UK, personnel from both the GAF and the RAF’s IX(B) Squadron launched joint air-to-air and air-to-ground training sorties to get accustomed to the each other’s operating procedures. The training also included AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) operations with an RAF Voyager tanker.

The first RAF Typhoons have landed in Estonia to join the German detachment on Mar. 1, 2023. The first joint QRA service will be conducted beginning on Mar. 6, 2023.

The joint QRA service is not new among NATO allies supporting air policing missions. For instance, last year, German Air Force’s Eurofighters from Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 74 were integrated into the Italian Air Force’s Task Force Black Storm at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania. That integration was carried out “on the fly”, in accordance with the ‘Plug & Fight’ concept: a small contingent of personnel and aircraft from one Ally conducts operations with another Ally by docking on existing structures, thereby further developing interoperability during a live deployment.

The integration into the existing ItAF detachment supporting the Italian-led NATO eAPA-S (Enhanced Air Policing Area South) mission, allowed Lutwaffe to significantly reduce the logistical effort and shorten both the preparation times and those needed to achieve the operational readiness in theatre. In short time, the Italian and the German detachments were fully integrated in the QRA mission, that was carried out jointly with mixed aircraft, personnel and pilots belonging to both Air Forces.

David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.





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