The Defence Secretary followed his four day tour of Africa with a visit to Royal Air Force personnel serving in Romania as part of the NATO Air Policing mission.
The detachment of four Typhoon fighter jets from 135 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) has been based in south east Romania since April. Deployed for five months, the EAW has been working alongside the Romanian Air Force to police the skies over the Black Sea. The EAW comprises aircraft from No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland supported by around 150 personnel drawn from stations across Britain. The RAF aircraft deployed to Romania are part of the UK’s contribution to reassurance measures to ensure the operational capability of NATO’s eastern flank. The EAP mission demonstrates NATO’s flexible capabilities and readiness, underlining the commitment of Allies to each other.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson addressed a gathering from both air forces:
“This deployment, Op BILOXI, is an excellent example of why the RAF, in its one hundredth year, is a class above air forces globally. It is my privilege to meet the service personnel that are serving with their Romanian allies, under a NATO banner.”
The Defence Secretary’s visit to Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase near Constanta rounded off his first visit in post to the country. Earlier that day he met his Romanian counterpart, Defence Minister Mihai Fifor, in Bucharest to discuss regional security in the Black Sea and defence activity between the two nations.
At the airbase he reiterated his earlier announcement of a Short Term Engagement Team from the British Army to support the Romanian-led Multinational Brigade South-East as part of NATO’s Forward Presence in the Black Sea to enhance security and deter aggression in the region. He added:
“This mission demonstrates NATO’s flexible capabilities, underlining the commitment of Allies to each other, as well as resolve and readiness. That is why we as the UK are committed to NATO and Romania.”
Joining the Defence Secretary at the airbase, the Romanian Defence Minister also paid tribute to the partnership between the two countries, saying:
“We believe that the presence of British partners in Romania represents not only a consistent contribution to the implementation of Assurance Measures, but also sends a strong message of allied solidarity.”
Article and images: Crown copyright, MOD