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Oct 8 2020

NATO Air Policing

NATO Air Policing missions demonstrate the solidarity of Allies, the defensive nature of NATO, and strengthens the security of NATO airspace against any potential threat.

Belgrade, Serbia - Today, a group of Serbian journalist participated side by side their foreign colleagues in the virtual press tour on NATO Air Policing in Slovenia and Slovenian air capabilities. Lieutenant Colonel Janez Gaube, Slovenian Air Force 15th Wing Commander hosted the tour and presented the 15th Wing and explained in detail the Slovenian Air Force capabilities, how their Control and Report Centre (CRC) works and what NATO Air Policing means for Slovenia. 

Air Policing is a peacetime mission designed to secure the airspace of Allies. The airspace over Europe sees an average of about 30,000 air movements per day, making it one of the busiest airspaces in the world. When there is an unidentified aircraft in the sky, be it due to accidental or intentional breakdown in communication with Air Traffic Control, such aircraft creates an unsafe environment, which could lead to an air incident or these actions may indicate hostile acts such as hijackings. The air policing jets will take to the skies at short notice when military or civilian aircraft are in distress or they do not follow international flight regulations and approach the sovereign airspace of NATO Allies. Their task is to ensure the safety of the airspace and its users. Sometimes the communication can be broken due to a technical problem or previously undetected damage with the aircraft.

NATO Air Policing is part of the principle of collective defence as a backbone for the Alliance. It demonstrates the cohesion of the Allies to preserving the integrity of NATO airspace. NATO Air Policing arrangements ensure the same standard of airspace security for the Allies that do not have an interceptor capability in their military inventory. In Slovenia, the mission is shared by the Hungarian and the Italian Air Force, while in Albania, the Italian and the Hellenic Air Force provide this capability. While both Allies – Italy and Greece – extend their important contribution to NATO Air Policing to also cover the airspace over Montenegro. For time being Hellenic Air Force contributes to the safer skies of North Macedonia.

This way we ensure that all of us have the same standard of airspace security by sharing our resources for the benefit of us all.

“NATO Air Policing is a peacetime collective defence mission, aimed at ensuring the integrity of NATO airspace. It protects Allied countries by maintaining a continuous, 24/7 air policing posture. It is defensive in nature and demonstrates the solidarity amongst all of the 30 NATO Allies, by safeguarding the airspace of the Alliance against any potential threat. For NATO countries that do not have the necessary air capabilities (Albania, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, Slovenia and Northern Macedonia), agreements exist to ensure their airspace security through the deployment of Allied aircraft. This way we ensure that all of us have the same standard of airspace security by sharing our resources for the benefit of us all.” – said Chief MLO Belgrade Brigadier General Tommaso Vitale.

Western Balkans Air Policing - Slovenian and Hungarian aircraft safeguard Slovenian airspace.

NATO Air Policing ensures the integrity of Allies’ airspace in Europe and protects Alliance nations by maintaining a continuous 24/7 Air Policing within SACEUR’s area of responsibility. It is neither in response to any specific threat nor directed against any nation. As the term “policing” suggests, just like the national police forces do on the ground to respond to anything out of the ordinary e.g. protest rally, traffic accident or property offence NATO jets get airborne to monitor so-called events, i.e. unusual situations in the air.

Dictionary definition: Air policing - The use of interceptor aircraft, in peacetime, for the purpose of preserving the integrity of a specified airspace.

You can find more info on this topic by visiting ALLIED AIR COMMAND website.

Story by NATO MLO Belgrade

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