Typhoon aircraft from the Royal Air Force currently based, in Eastern Romania have been testing the air defence capabilities of HMS Duncan, a Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer which is leading the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 in the Black Sea.
The Four Typhoons from 3(F) Squadron were tasked to test the capability of HMS Duncan in controlling air defence and anti-surface warfare. During the exercise the ship’s crew had the opportunity to control some of the jets to defend the destroyer from air attack and at the same time practice launching an air attack on other surface ships.
HMS Duncan’s Senior Warfare Officer Lt Cdr Michael Waters said: “Opportunities for Type 45 to work with the RAF Typhoons are few and far between, even in the UK. The chance to operate with 135 EAW, and for HMS Duncan to control live aircraft in the execution of both Air-Air and Air-Surface missions was invaluable and proved our interoperability while both were tasked to NATO in the Black Sea.”
Flight Lieutenant Brett Fusco, from 3(F) Squadron, co-ordinated 135 EAW’s participation and who flew during the exercise explained what happened. He said: “There were two elements, their fighter controllers on board practiced controlling us against an air threat while one of us was acting as the threat and two of us were on Combat Air Patrol protecting the ship.
“The other element was conducting Anti Surface Forces Air Operations (ASFAOs) using the fourth jet. For Duncan it was a chance for them to concurrently have different elements of their crew defending against an air threat whilst controlling an anti-surface operation.”
Following the conclusion of the exercise there was an opportunity for an exchange with 18 RAF personnel visiting HMS Duncan for a tour of the ship and 15 RN personnel being hosted at MK Air base.
Flt Lt Gemma Bean, the 135 EAW Detachment Administrative Officer said: “It was really interesting. It was the first time I’ve ever been on a RN ship. Just to see how their lifestyle compares to ours was eye-opening. We saw everything from their helicopter, the operations centre to the bridge and the weapons systems.” She reflected on the similarities of operations, adding: “They are also on NATO ops. It was interesting to see how they conduct theirs working with different nations, liaising with host nations and how everything fits together as a NATO package.”
Petty Officer Tim Rumble, from HMS Duncan said: “It was great to have the opportunity to visit an Expeditionary Air Wing deployed with NATO and offered a fascinating insight into the way our RAF colleagues operate. I particularly enjoyed seeing the aircraft up close as well as the unique facilities at MK Airbase.”
The RAF has deployed 135 Expeditionary Air Wing, from RAF Leeming with four Typhoon aircraft, from RAF Coningsby, to western Romania until the end of August as part of a four-month NATO mission to enhance air policing. At the same time the Portsmouth-based Type 45 Destroyer, HMS Duncan has been tasked in the Black Sea leading the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, providing reassurance and deterrence in the Black Sea, as well as commanding NATO’s counter migration activity in the Aegean.