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How The RAF Gets A NATO Policing Mission In The Air

While the pilots soar in the skies above Romania, the Black Sea and Bulgaria, a much larger force is at work on the ground...

Around the clock, four RAF Typhoons are on quick reaction alert in Romania, as part of a NATO air policing mission

The Typhoon fighter Force currently deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu Airbase, near Constanta in southeast Romania, are continuing the enhanced air policing mission which started last year.

The Typhoons need to be ready to take off in a matter of minutes and fly most days, often flying in partnership with Romanian MiG-21 LanceR aircraft.

But while the pilots soar in the skies above Romania, the Black Sea and Bulgaria, a much larger force is at work on the ground.

Of the 150 people taking part in operation Biloxi, just six are actually going into the air.

135 Expeditionary Air Wing has 150 personnel, including II (AC) Squadron, drawn from stations across the country to form a unit capable of carrying out all the necessary support activities to maintain a fast jet operational force.

The Typhoon and air to air missiles need regular maintenance as they have to be checked and made safe after each flight.

The EAW also takes part in Defence Engagement – hosting visits from school children and joining in local exercises and parades.

Flying Officer Calum Hughes stressed the importance of the engagement.

He said: “You can do the air policing in isolation and you could say that that was going on but without anyone seeing what is going on it doesn’t assure the other nations.

“You need the second side of it which is the defence engagement to actually deliver the message that you’re actually doing the work that you are doing.

"It’s definitely vital.”

The RAF will carry out its enhanced air policing role in Romania until September, when they will hand over to Canada.

The RAF is then expected to deploy to Iceland and Estonia in the next 12 months.