The UK is stepping up its package of measures to support its allies in Europe, in the face of a more assertive Russia, the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced today.
The Defence Secretary said that the UK will commit RAF Typhoon aircraft to the NATO Southern Air Policing mission to offer reassurance to the Black Sea allies. Deployed from RAF Coningsby, the Typhoons will be based at Mihail Kogălniceanu Airbase, Romania, for up to four months in 2017.
Following July’s decision that the UK will deliver one of four battalions to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic States and Poland, Mr Fallon confirmed the UK will be sending 800 personnel to Estonia, with France and Denmark contributing further troops.
The deployment is likely to include armoured Infantry, equipped with Warrior armoured fighting vehicles, tactical UAVs, and a troop of our Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks. Detailed planning with our Estonian hosts is well under way and the first deployments are expected to begin in May next year.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
Backed by a rising defence budget this deployment of air, land and sea forces shows that we will continue to play a leading role in NATO, supporting the defence and security of our allies from the north to the south of the alliance.
At the Ministerial meeting, the Defence Secretary also welcomed the signing of UK’s Instrument of Acceptance for Montenegro to join NATO – making the UK the first major ally to complete the process.
The announcement comes after the Defence Secretary confirmed at the weekend that the UK will deploy a 28-strong team to Kosovo for a year. This increase to our contribution to the KFOR Mission, NATO’s largest operation, will help to maintain a safe and secure environment for all communities in Kosovo. The UK deployment will also provide reassurance in the Western Balkan region from early 2017.
Backed by a £178 billion equipment plan and defence budget rising in real terms for the rest of this parliament, the UK is one of several countries that meets the NATO 2% spending target.