Typhoons based in Romania have been launched as a response to a Russian aircraft operating near NATO airspace over the Black Sea.
Operating from the Romanian Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base near Constanta on the Black Sea coast, the RAF Typhoons responded to a Russian Federation Air Force IL-20, NATO codename Coot, heading west near NATO airspace.
The Russian military jets were flying over the western Black Sea and were monitored by the Typhoons in accordance with the NATO Enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission the RAF are conducting in Romania. The IL-20 Coot was tracked as it departed North East but the aircraft did not come within visual range of each other.
II (Army Co-operation) Squadron pilot, Squadron Leader Roger Cruickshank was on Quick Reaction Alert duty when the scramble was called according to a press release. He said:
“I received the order and alerted the team that we were scrambling. Sprinting to the aircraft, my wingman, Flight Lieutenant Pilbeam and I were able to get airborne due to the incredible job the ground crew did and within minutes, well within our NATO approved response timing, we were airborne. Quickly climbing to height and nearly supersonic, it was down to the superb collective response alongside our Romanian partners that we were able to successfully complete our mission.”
The RAF mission in Romania is part of NATO’s Assurance Measures introduced in 2014. At the time, the Alliance started implementing these Assurance Measures with the goal to demonstrate the collective resolve of Allies, demonstrate the defensive nature of NATO and deter the threat of Russian aggression against NATO Allies.
Wing Commander Chris Ball, Commanding Officer of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing based in Romania said:
“Today’s scramble, so early in our mission, proves that we have successfully reintegrated into the NATO air policing system from our base here in Romania. Across the Wing, from our drivers to our technicians, our intelligence staff to the pilots, the team has performed their roles exceptionally well and so I can say with confidence that we are providing effective air policing for the Alliance.”
The RAF is deployed to Romania as part of the NATO ‘Enhanced Air Policing’ mission, where member states will provide assistance to the Romanian Air Force’s own fleet of fast-jet aircraft. Romania is equipped with MiG -21LanceR and the American built F-16 aircraft.