Numerous top-line RAF planes, including B-52 jets, CV-22 Ospreys, Airbus tankers, and spy planes have been reported to have left air bases in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire over the past week. The planes are said to have taken to the skies as part of NATO’s mission to defend Ukraine.
Only this morning, a Boeing C17 Globemaster, callsign RRR6672, departed RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to head out towards mainland Europe, while yesterday, a plane of a similar nature followed by multiple military transport flights departed the same way.
The RAF has confirmed the activity carried out by these aircraft is part of a pre-planned “Enhanced Vigilance Activity”, which is a NATO-led operation initiated in light of the unfolding events in Ukraine.
The activity includes providing air support to defend the region, and “is a robust response to Russian aggression, contributing to the security of Europe.”
The Typhoon aircraft that have been sent out are said to be armed with state-of-the-art air-to-air missiles and a full suite of defensive aids, and carry the objective to patrol NATO airspace over Poland and Romania.
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These Typhoons are supported by the RAF Voyager aircraft sent from Brize Norton, which offer an air-to-air refuelling station for the fighter jets.
RAF Air Vice-Marshal Phil Robinson said: “We stand ready to defend Europe and the Atlantic region against further aggression.
“I am incredibly proud of the courage and commitment of our aircrew operating across the region and of all our personnel who are supporting them.”
However, it’s not just the UK helping to bolster Ukraine’s defence capabilities.
Support has flocked in from the west, as countries continue to deliver volumes of arms and equipment to Kyiv as the invasion progresses.
The US Air Force has joined the RAF in flying missions to support Ukraine, delivering military aid to Poland and surrounding eastern NATO countries to transfer to Ukraine by road.
This is said to be being carried out in an urgent and vast logistical operation, including civilian volunteers as well as the military, to ensure the arms reach Ukraine’s front lines rapidly.
The rapidity of this operation is driven by concerns that Russian advances could soon be positioned to intercept the supply lines.
The Pentagon and Western security sources have reported up to 17,000 anti-tank weapons to have arrived in Ukraine since the invasion began.
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An official from the Pentagon said: “We have just accelerated our process of identifying requirements and accelerated our consultations as well with the Ukrainians, talking to them daily, as opposed to periodic meetings that we did before this crisis.”
However, the Russian foreign ministry has been quoted to have said that the dispatch of arms will lead to “global collapse”.
They warned that supplying aircraft to Ukraine could be interpreted as participation in the war.
On this basis, NATO has been cautious to rule out Kyiv’s imposition of a no-fly over zone in Ukraine, requested in a bid to help limit attacks.
No-fly zones prevent a country from using warplanes to attack military targets or civilians on the ground.
Once declared, NATO would then be responsible to patrol the area with its own planes – directly dragging NATO into the war.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week that although the Russian invasion was “horrific,” it was NATO’s responsibility to keep its member states safe.
Mr Stoltenberg said: “Our assessment is that we understand the desperation… but if we [imposed a no-fly zone], we’ll end up with something that could end in a full-fledged war in Europe, involving many more countries, and causing much more human suffering.”