Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel have been taking part in a maritime exercise with NATO allies in the Black Sea, led by the Romanian Navy Fleet Command.
Squadron Leader Roger Cruickshank, a pilot from 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), who flew a sortie from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base over the Black Sea under the control of a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer, said:
“The Exercise started by joining up with two Romanian Air Force MIG21s, then flying overhead HMS Duncan in close formation.
This was a fantastic symbol of how we are closely working together with our NATO allies and a historic moment as part of Exercise Sea Shield. I was controlled by HMS Duncan, who used her sophisticated systems to maintain full awareness of my position and simulated enemy aircraft trying to attack the ship.”
The Commanding Officer of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, Wing Commander Chris Ball, was invited by the Romanian Fleet Command to attend the opening ceremony and formal reception at Constanta port. According to a press release, at the opening ceremony Wg Cdr Ball said:
“Exercise Sea Shield will be an invaluable training opportunity for us. We will be collaborating in to provide air power within a maritime exercise. 135 EAW personnel will work alongside military personnel from a diverse range of nations and forces within NATO. Together, we will enhance the mutual understanding between air, land and maritime within the Black Sea, reinforcing the UK commitment to the alliance and our ability to effectively contribute to NATO collective defence.”
“I’d like to emphasise the importance of Exercise Sea Shield. This year we are delighted to see such a diverse mixture of multinational forces participating, NATO has provided a partnership under which we can maintain the security and stability of all our nations. I thank all the nations that will be participating, this is an opportunity for us all to work together, ensuring NATO readiness is upheld and proving that NATO is both a credible and efficient alliance.” – VICE ADMIRAL ALEXANDRU MIRSU Chief of the Romanian Naval Forces.