Operation BILOXI: Protecting the skies of our allies

Operation BILOXI: Protecting the skies

Ever wondered how NATO keeps its airspace safe?

Op BILOXI is a long-standing NATO air policing mission between the UK and countries in and around the Black Sea region. This year the Royal Air Force is assisting Romania in deterring threats from adversarial countries.

The mission, which started in 1961 during the Cold War, is a purely defensive one designed to protect the alliance’s airspace.

Royal Air Force Typhoons depart RAF Lossiemouth en route to Romania for Operation BILOXI (22nd Apr 2021).

The airspace is monitored by operation centres and where it’s assessed that an interception is required, NATO aircraft can be scrambled as part of a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA). The UK supports Romania by augmenting its own capabilities.

Scrambling is the act of quickly mobilising military aircraft. The RAF use scrambling in reaction to an immediate threat, usually to intercept a hostile aircraft. The speed of a Typhoon jet can get up to around 2,495 km/hr.

“During the deployment, we will be working alongside our Romanian and other NATO partners, enabling the delivery of the mission and protecting and reassuring our allies, whilst building confidence and maintaining deterrence.”

— Commander Group 11 Air Vice-Marshal Phil Robinson

RAF Typhoon intercepting a Russian IL-38 May and SU-27 Flanker B aircraft in Baltic Sea area (30th July 2020).
RAF Typhoon intercepting a Russian IL-38 May and SU-27 Flanker B aircraft in the Baltic Sea area (30th July 2020).

The RAF deployment to Romania has been supported by personnel from No 1 Expeditionary Logistics Squadron and No 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron, which are part of the RAF Support Force.

The RAF Support Force was set up in 2020 and brings together most of the capabilities and skills needed to sustain modern air operations and exercises. This includes specialist engineering, logistics, advanced military communications, tactical medical services and the mountain rescue team.

Both squadrons have prepared and transported equipment and supplies to maintain the Typhoon jets during the mission.

“The arrival of our personnel and equipment in the region highlights the RAF’s continued commitment and contribution to the NATO Air Policing mission in Romania.”

— Commander Group 11 Air Vice-Marshal Phil Robinson

The four deploying Typhoon jets from 3 (Fighter) Squadron are normally based at RAF Coningsby, and will conduct the NATO Air Policing mission from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base on the Romanian Black Sea coast.

Map showing Air Base in Romania

The mission is supported by 150 RAF personnel based at RAF Wittering who form the Headquarters of an ‘Expeditionary Air Wing’. The personnel have recently undertaken training at RAF Leeming’s Operational Training Centre, in order to take part in the mission.

Operation BILOXI is ultimately a mission that aims in promoting NATO airspace security and deterrence in Europe, in the name of defence.

Find out where else the UK Armed Forces are deployed here👇

Operation BILOXI: Protecting the skies of our allies was originally published in Voices Of The Armed Forces on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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