The 6 Squadron aircraft are deploying to Šiauliai Air Base in Lithuania where they will carry out the Baltic Air Policing mission for the summer, along with the Spanish Air Force, who will be deploying F-18 fighters. This is a core UK defence task that the RAF is able to continue in addition to supporting the NHS, and other Government departments during the current COVID-19 Pandemic.
Wing Commander Matt D’Aubyn, the Officer Commanding 6 Squadron RAF, said:
“This deployment is the latest RAF contribution to NATO Air Policing. As one of four front-line Squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth, we routinely conduct UK-based Quick Reaction Alert – on standby 24/7 to defend the Nation’s skies.
“The NATO Air Policing mission in the Baltics is very similar to UK QRA, and my pilots and supporting personnel are experienced operators when it comes to completing this sort of task. Despite the difficult circumstances caused by COVID-19 we are well prepared and ready to deliver this mission.”
Wing Commander Matt D’Aubyn
Officer Commanding 6 Squadron
The 6 Squadron detachment will be augmented by other personnel from across the Service to form 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, which consists of around 150 personnel who will be well equipped and trained to deliver this NATO Air Policing role.
Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, Commanding Officer of 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, said:
“The RAF has been a regular guest of our Baltic hosts; this is the sixth time the United Kingdom has deployed on this Air Policing mission,
“The RAF was the third NATO member to conduct, what was then, a new Allied Baltic Air Policing mission from Šiauliai, in 2004, and we look forward to conducting this important NATO mission. During the operation we will be demonstrating NATO’s collective resolve and assurance for our eastern allies, as well as showing that the United Kingdom remains leading NATO member that is committed to NATO operations."
135 EAW are deploying to conduct this important NATO mission despite the COVID-19 pandemic and all necessary measures have therefore been taken to ensure that both UK and Lithuanian mandated COVID-19 precautions and countermeasure have been followed.