We’re flying above Poland, around 80 kilometers from the Russian border, in an RAF Voyager, and we’re seeing the UK’s Typhoon fighter fighters refuel in the air beside us.
Although the drill is unrelated to President Putin’s recent nuclear deterrence statement, British military planes have greatly increased their patrols since Russian forces invaded Ukraine as part of the Nato mission to safeguard Europe.
The RAF Typhoons are effectively policing the skies between Poland and Romania to discourage any Russian action, showcasing their might in the region.
While these RAF fighters are flying near to Russian airspace, they may acquire information about Russian military aircraft in the air and what they’re doing via radar.
The RAF pilots told me that if there was a Russian military assault into a Nato nation, these fighter planes would be within their rights to engage them.
However, for the time being, it is believed that the expanded presence of Nato air forces will send a strong message to Moscow.
“It’s partially reassurance to show NATO allies we’re there with them, to preserve airspace integrity, make sure we’ve got a solid awareness of who’s flying where, and to react to any emergent concerns,” Officer Mike Udall says.
“There’s a real human element to it, and we all feel it, and we all follow the news,” she says, “but our purpose is to be there and do our own work, and contribute in any way we can.”