Britain and Germany are set to take part in joint air operations over Estonia for the first time, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has announced.
Around 300 RAF personnel from 140 Expeditionary Air Wing are to be sent to the Baltic country – which shares a border with Russia – to lead NATO air policing operations.
The British pilots will work alongside Typhoon jets from the German Air Force on live “integrated” missions.
Mr Wallace praised the demonstration of NATO “unity”, adding: “Our RAF personnel in Estonia are undertaking a vital role, ensuring the security of Europe’s skies and bolstering NATO’s presence in eastern Europe.
“Joint operations of this kind, demonstrate the strength and unity of the NATO alliance and our shared resolve to maintain peace and security across the region.”
The UK is taking over from Germany to lead the long-established NATO mission in Estonia – a member of the military alliance – for the next four months.
Wing Commander Scott Maccoll, commanding officer of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing, said: “We have been working together for some time and the level of cooperation has now reached a new level.
“It continues to be an absolute pleasure to work with our German allies on all aspects of our mission – from maintenance and operation of the jets to planning and logistic activities.
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“What better way to demonstrate the strength and unity of the NATO Alliance, than through successful, shared operations such as this?”
Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Hachmeister, the German Detachment commander, said: “Working together with our allies from the Royal Air Force in a live mission is what we have been looking forward to since we started this mission.
“Now we can demonstrate interoperability in these difficult times to protect our Baltic partners and NATO’s eastern flank.
“The many years of good practice in working together will be the baseline for a successful cooperation.”
Labour’s shadow defence secretary John Healey said his party’s commitment to NATO cooperation with allies like Germany is “unshakeable”.
“But the Conservatives’ mismanagement of defence projects such as Wedgetails and cuts to military transport planes are leaving the UK’s NATO obligations in doubt,” he added.