The UK fast jets will reinforce the Polish contribution to the air policing mission; a standing defensive mission undertaken by rotations of aircraft from contributing nations on a 4-month cycle.
The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced this to the House of Commons in March. The deployment forms part of a series of measures taken by Nato to support and reassure its eastern member states.
Mr Hammond said:
In the wake of recent events in Ukraine, it is right that Nato takes steps to reaffirm very publicly its commitment to the collective security of its members.
As a leading member of Nato, the UK is playing a central role, underlined by today’s deployment of RAF Typhoon aircraft to Lithuania.
This, alongside the other action we are taking, will provide reassurance to our Nato allies in eastern Europe and the Baltic states.
As part of standing arrangements within Nato, members of the alliance without their own air policing assets are assisted by others.
The RAF’s Typhoon FGR4, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire and RAF Leuchars in Fife, is also used to provide air policing within UK airspace as part of the ‘Quick Reaction Alert’ and in the Falkland Islands.
A multi-role combat aircraft, it is capable of being deployed in the full spectrum of air operations, from air policing through to high intensity conflict.
This Typhoon deployment comes 6 weeks after the UK Sentry E-3D aircraft, which is part of the Nato Airborne Warning and Control System Force, was deployed to Polish and Romanian airspace to provide additional reassurance to our allies.