Fighter jets from Italy, Poland, and the United States took to the skies over NATO’s eastern flank as part of NATO’s Air Shielding mission. The line-up of aircraft included Italian Eurofighters, Polish F-16s, Polish MiG-29s, and United States F-22s. The planned one-day series of aerial maneuvers were conducted from Łask Air Base in Poland on 12 October 2022.
NATO’s Air Shielding mission is an increased air and missile defense posture along the Alliance’s eastern flank, implemented in the wake of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. Allies have deployed more fighter jets and ground-based air and missile defense systems to protect Allies along the eastern flank against possible air and missile threats. This is purely defensive, and a key component of NATO’s enhanced deterrence and defense posture. NATO’s Air Shielding involves deployments ranging from a few weeks to several months at air bases and key locations in the eastern part of the Alliance.
In an interview with UK Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant Lewis Travers of the 3rd Fighter Squadron stated,
“So, in terms of our contribution to NATO, we will be on quick reaction alert, or QRA. And we’ll have our fighters, as you see the one behind me the FGR4[Eurofighter Typhoon], primed and ready with our crews, our engineers, with our technicians to launch that aircraft and defend NATO’s airspace.”
“This opportunity is fantastic, actually, to work with our NATO partners. There’s a number of different air forces located here at MK [Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base] and we get to fly with those regularly, both in the QRA roles. But also, in terms of training. And you know, other nations here, we’ve got an opportunity with the ground forces, air forces and in particular, you know, those nations coming together. And we’ve already conducted some training with the American contingent here at the base, so we’re seizing everything we can just to make sure we are better, our skillset is honed and we’re working professionally with each other.”
With the threat of the war in Ukraine spreading into other countries of Eastern Europe the role of NATO in securing the air space of members like Poland and Romania becomes a special priority as US Air Force Lt Col Willia Parks, CO of the 480th Expeditionary Squadron Detachment explains, “Overall, the enhanced Air Policing makes NATO safer through multiple means. We’re getting the chance to train and integrate closer with our NATO Allies. We’re airborne and we’re securing the borders and just making sure that we have a presence across the entire eastern flank for NATO.”
“The forward presence is important to show that we’re here in solidarity visibly and physically with our Romanian partners. It allows us to get airborne and provide better protection and support for the NATO borders. And it’s excellent training to work with all of the Allied partners, and different airframes and different mission sets.”
Source: NATO Channel/ DVIDS