UK F-35s land in Estonia to support NATO Air Policing mission

F-35B jets from the Royal Air Force have landed in Estonia to support NATO's enhanced Air Policing mission along the alliance's eastern flank. 

The deployment marks the first time F-35s from the RAF have been based overseas as part of a NATO Air Policing mission and comes just days after Lightnings took part in NATO's Enhanced Vigilance Patrols over Romania and Poland.

The aircraft from RAF Marham in Norfolk have joined other allied fifth-generation fighters provided by the US Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force already taking part in air patrols over Eastern Europe. 

The mission is designed to protect allied airspace in the region.

A UK F-35 during a NATO Enhanced Vigilance Patrol last week
A UK F-35 during a NATO Enhanced Vigilance Patrol last week (Picture: MOD).

Group Captain Phillip Marr, Station Commander at RAF Marham, said the F-35 is an "incredibly capable and versatile aircraft".

After landing at Ämari Air Base, the new deployment will see the F-35s based alongside Belgian F-16s, where they will be better placed to support the ongoing NATO mission. 

The stealth fighters can be armed with a variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons and are capable of multiple simultaneous missions such as air policing and intelligence gathering.