NATO Air Policing

Safeguarding the integrity of Alliance members’ sovereign airspace is a peacetime task contributing to NATO’s collective defence. Longstanding Air Policing involves Quick Reaction Alert (Interceptor) (QRA(I)) aircraft from NATO nations that consistently respond to aircraft that operate in an unidentified, unusual or unsafe manner. Existing military and civilian agreements ensure seamless Air Policing operations across NATO members’ airspace and guarantee security to Alliance members.

NATO Air Policing requires an Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS), an Air Command and Control (Air C2) structure and QRA(I) aircraft to be available on a 24/7 basis.

The NATO Air Policing mission is executed by two Combined Air Operation Centres located in Torrejon, Spain and Uedem, Germany under the supervision of the Allied Air Command Headquarters, located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany).

NATO Air Policing is a routine and fundamental example of how NATO provides security to its members.

From the cockpit of a Belgian F-16 - a view of the composite air operation the fighter conducted with Italian Typhoons on 13 March in support of NATO's Baltic Air Policing. - Photo courtesy of the Belgian Air Force EAPB, Malbork, Poland

NATO Air Policing also reflects the Alliance fundamental guiding principle: common commitment and mutual co-operation among sovereign States. In fact all member nations contribute in some form to the NATO Air policing, be it through the use of national aerial surveillance systems, air traffic management, interceptor aircraft or other air defence measures.

For member nations not having the full range QRA(I) assets in their own militaries (Albania, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Slovenia), agreements exist to ensure a single standard of security for NATO’s member Nations.

The peacetime NATO Air Policing mission is carried out under the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS). This is a visible indication of cohesion, shared responsibility and solidarity across the Alliance.

NATO also maintains a continuous dialogue with partner countries to promote mutual understanding, transparency and confidence in air defence matters of common interest. The cooperation program includes fact-finding meetings with air defence experts, seminars and workshop, visits to air defence facilities and installations, joint analytical studies and a programme for the exchange of unclassified air situation data.


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