Royal Air Force Typhoons on the NATO Enhanced Air Policing (eAP) mission scrambled on 5 August as NATO radars detected Russian aircraft approaching Romanian airspace over the southern Black Sea. Operation BILOXI is the UK contribution to NATO’s eAP which is part of the NATO Assurance Measures first introduced in 2014 following the annexation of the Crimea by Russia. This is 8th scramble since assuming our NATO enhanced Air Policing mission at the start of May. This is the third time the RAF has deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania as part of NATO’s eAP mission in the Black Sea region. Controlled in 2021 on the ground by 121 EAW, RAF Typhoon aircraft conduct the eAP mission to demonstrate the UK’s resolve and commitment to NATO and to offer reassurance to its Allies in the region.
Enhanced Air Policing is part of NATO’s Assurance Measures introduced in 2014, after Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The Alliance implemented these Assurance Measures with the goal to demonstrate the collective resolve of Allies, demonstrate the defensive nature of NATO and deter Russia from aggression or the threat of aggression against NATO Allies. They are flexible and scalable in response to fluctuations in the security situation facing the Alliance and send a strong, unambiguous message to the public. As part of these Assurance Measures, NATO’s Air Policing mission is enhanced across two Implementation Areas.
“When the Russian aircraft entered the Romanian Flight Information Region (FIR) we were scrambled to conduct a Combat Air Patrol in the area. As the suspect aircraft turned into Romanian airspace we were then instructed to visually identify the track. When we turned to intercept the aircraft they had left the FIR. As we approached our Combat Air Patrol area, the aircraft turned, headed away from us and left the FIR, at which point we resumed our air patrolling mission and practiced some air combat manoeuvres before returning to base,” said Flight Lieutenant Charlie, one of the RAF Pilots from IX (Bomber) Squadron, who was on Quick Reaction Alert duty and responded to the scramble.
NATO members are authorized and encouraged to provide additional assets to the Alliance supplementing existing Baltic Air Policing capabilities in the northern Implementation Area. Since 2014, Baltic Air Policing has been continuously augmented as part of the Assurance Measures by a second detachment, based at Ämari, Estonia. In the South, Romania’s and Bulgaria’s national Air Policing capabilities are and have been temporarily augmented by detachments from various Allied Air Forces. Whilst these nations are fully capable of conducting Air Policing operations on their own, aircraft and pilots of augmenting detachments can also be scrambled to conduct intercepts.