Typhoon jets based at RAF Coningsby have departed to begin a NATO Baltic Air Policing mission based in Estonia.

The four aircraft from the Lincolnshire air station flew to Amari Air Base in Estonia to conduct the next round of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission and take over from German Airforce Typhoons.

In Estonia the RAF aircraft will be at readiness to intercept aircraft entering the eastern flank of the NATO alliance airspace and will work in coordination with other NATO allies based in Latvia.

RAF Coningsby Station Commander, Group Captain Mark Flewin, said:

“Our aircraft have deployed to Estonia today as part of our on-going commitment to support NATO.  We are there primarily to re-assure our allies but to also be prepared to secure the airspace of our NATO partners, in the same way as we guard our airspace at home.”

This is the third time that RAF Typhoons have deployed to Estonia, the last occasion was in 2016. The Baltic Air Policing operations were enhanced in 2014 after the Russian annexation of Crimea and was part of the Assurance Measures agreed by the NATO Allies at the Warsaw summit of that year.

The RAF mission in Estonia 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.

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David Barry

Surely they will work with Lithuanian colleagues… Latvia only having rotary assets.


Wonder if their going cw amraam or meteor.

Daniele Mandelli

Have the RAF actually intercepted any Russian aircraft since they began this mission?


In terms of this deployment they have only just deployed. In terms of Baltic air policing, here is just one example: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45301539

Daniele Mandelli

Yes, I meant in the history of the operation, not this deployment.

That example you linked was the Romanian detachment, not Estonia.

I coukd not recall if there had been any, that’s all.


Mike Saul

Off topic but I have read that the UK is considering ditching the t31e project and restoring the t26 project to 13 ships.

The reasons behind this that price target for t31e cannot be met given the specification demanded.

The Australian and Canadian orders for t26 will have a significant impact cost reduction on the t26 project.

So the difference in price between a t26 gp version and a t31 is getting smaller.

Obviously having just one platform instead of two will reduce through life costs, in terms of training, modifications and maintenance.


If this is true I’m going to wee… Where did you happen upon this out of interest?

Mike Saul


The article is by Dr. Friedman who is the author of The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems.

The article is mainly concerned with a possible purchase by the USN, but includes a comment on the t31e.

Thinking about it, it would make a lot of sense to ditch the t31e.

Paul T

If that is true Mike then that is a massive win for common sense in my opinion,as posted in multiple threads here they just need to get a move on in the build times.


Lets not forget that the T31 is also designed for the export market. Great news that the T26 is already doing this, but the T31e is designed (in part) to help sustain British ship building too. So whether we use those ships or not, it keeps the ship building in Britain alive with a strategy behind it. Why just export large T26 vessels when there are other markets out there to explore? Shouldn’t we should try to have a solution for as many markets as possible? YES lets have more T26 for our RN, but lets also build T31 to… Read more »

Mike Saul

I can see the export case for t31e, but the RN would be better off with a T26 GP version in terms of capability and cost.

Also given that two contenders for t31e are foreign designs, how much would any exports be really worth to the UK?

If the the money is there and the t26 GP is affordable there is no doubt in my mind the RN should procure it instead of t31e.


Thanks Mike, I agree. The capabilities, flexibility and sea-faring skills of a larger hull cannot be emphasised enough.
The “foreign designs” you mentioned have been niggling away in the back of my mind too… the potential licence costs “could” be a cause for concern. But I’m keen to see how this plays out
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Paul T

Matt – that was the assumed path of both Frigate Projects – Type 26 being a high end multi-mission ASW Warship specifically for RN needs,the Type 31 being a capable Multi-mission Warship at a much lower price point with a massive nod towards export sales,but as it has turned out the Type 26 has hit the spot regards exports,and the lower tier Frigate market is pretty well maxxed out with competing designs already well ahead regards orders and build rates,the final Type 31 design has not even been decided yet so perhaps it wont progress any further.

Daniele Mandelli

If this is true, when will they be built and will the build order for the ASW variant change?

It is at a snail’s pace already.

The 5 GP T23’s need replacing quickly, and the T31 was meant to do that.


Gosh, wouldn’t that be grand! Great gossip Mike. Thanks for sharing

Robert Blay

Lets hope that’s true, thanks for the info.


The whole point of having the type 31 is so we can build more than 13 for the Royal Navy ,more ships are needed.

Mike Saul

The cost, in terms of build and through life costs, of a t31e against a t26 gp equipped to the same the same specification is not going to be as great as first thought.

That is prime reason behind the rethink.

One of main problems is the number of personnel available to man the ships, recruitment and retention will remain an issue.

Even if t31e is selected and funds allow more than 5 to be procured, where are the personnel going to come from?


Yep good point.


Fantastic news if true. We would have a more capable and flexible frigate fleet if we went back to 13 T26. I think there’s a danger of getting hung up on justifying T31e on export potential. Number 1 priority must be doing what is best for the RN plus there are plenty of other potentially lucrative export opportunities that the UK could explore that would offer the RN benefit without compromise. A VTOL (camcopter) UAV in the 200-300kg is still one of my favourites, it could add so much capability in policing roles to Rivers, Bays and cost-optimise such operations… Read more »