NATO reassigns Luftwaffe’s Red Baron to Eastern Front

Russia can’t make a move without the West drawing disparaging historical parallels. Everything from constructing a natural gas pipeline to holding a routine military exercise conjures up allusions to Joseph Stalin or Ivan the Terrible.

Not so with NATO actions, however. German warplanes can regularly fly over the Baltic Sea region off the coast of Russian territory as part of permanent NATO air patrols and no analogy to their predecessors doing so 80 years ago is made. The German army can command NATO’s battle group in Lithuania, on Russia’s border, and no mention of the Wehrmacht is mentioned. Germany can participate in an air war against Yugoslavia again after a 50-some-odd-year hiatus and no hint of Hitler is breathed.

Romania, from which the not-to-be-recalled leader, above, unleashed an army, not to be identified, above, on Soviet Russia 80 years ago, recently hosted squadrons of German and British warplanes.

A German Eurofighter detachment joined British Royal Air Force counterparts at the Mihail Kogălniceanu Air Base to conduct NATO air policing operations. Policing is a curious word to use in reference to advanced multirole combat planes. NATO runs comparable operations from air bases in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

NATO’s Allied Air Command described the German role in these words: “40 military personnel from the German Luftwaffe’s Tactical Air Wing 71 ‘Richthofen’, have been embedded with the 180 strong RAF 121 Expeditionary Air Wing.”

Luftwaffe itself has a ring to it – for history aficionados – and Richthofen does as well. One is safe in assuming the air force unit is named after Baron von Richthofen, the Red Baron, German’s premier fighter pilot in World War I.

The British and Geman air forces, once adversaries as in the days of Richthofen of fond memory and during the May Blitz, have reconciled their past differences and and now engage in joint “interoperability and integration training” over the Black Sea.

Only three days before the 80th anniversary of the German-led Operation Barbarossa invasion of Soviet Russia on June 22, 1941, fifteen German warplanes flew near Russia’s northwest border from June 14th-17th. Altogether over 40 military aircraft from NATO nations participated in Multinational Air Group Days, with the German planes providing the framework for other warplanes from fellow NATO member states Denmark, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the U.S.

About the same time 30 German soldiers attached to the NATO battlegroup in Lithuania were sent home for alleged racist and anti-Semitic behavior and for, to make the anniversary complete, singing a birthday song for Adolph Hitler.

In recent weeks Germany and its new Fortress Europe military allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have participated in the following exercises in Romania and the Black Sea region:

  • The 32-nation, two-week Sea Breeze war games in the Black Sea from June 28 to July 10.
  • The Swift Response airborne exercise in Bulgaria and Romania (as well as Estonia) in May with over 7,000 troops from 11 nations as part of the DEFENDER Europe 21 exercises.
  • U.S. B52 strategic bombers flying over the Black Sea escorted by Turkish F-16s.
  • The Trojan Footprint special operations forces exercise in Black Sea nations Bulgaria, Georgia and Romania as well as in Montenegro and North Macedonia.

Regarding the recent German-British air combat operations in Romania, a Royal Air Force commander said:

“On the 60th year of NATO Quick Reaction Alert this joint deployment re-enforces the commitment of both the RAF and the Luftwaffe to achieving a joint NATO Air Policing mission.

“The next step will be the signing of a Common Declaration on UK and German Eurofighter/Typhoon interoperability, which the Air Chiefs look forward to signing when they next meet; this important document will facilitate future combined exercises and operations between our nations.”

Europe whole, free and at peace. Adversaries in two world wars, the air forces of Germany and Britain are now unified, “interoperable,” for war with Russia.