Special Edition Interview with NATO Allied Air Command

Interview with the NATO Air Command Spokesman conducted by Editor in Chief 

Sir, we are delighted to have the occasion of this interview with you. Thank you very much indeed for accepting our invitation.

Q: 1 Could you please tell us about the historical formation and the current architecture of NATO Air Command. 

  NATO Air Command spokesman: Headquarters Allied Air Command is located at Ramstein, Germany, within Ramstein Air Force Base, which has been home to a NATO Airpower headquarters since 1974. The headquarters is responsible for planning, exercising and executing Integrated Air and Missile Defence Operations within NATO’s European area of responsibility from peacetime through to conflict. The Headquarters includes the Operations Centre for Air Policing, Ballistic Missile Defence and operational control of NATO’s Airborne Early Warning and Control Force as well as for NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force. The Headquarters can also host a Joint Force Air Component to command and control allied air operations during crisis and conflict. More than five hundred dedicated military and civilian personnel, increasing to some 620 in support of the adapted structure, serve at the Headquarters, representing 25 NATO member nations. The staff is permanently augmented by representatives from three of NATO’s partner nations, Sweden, Finland and Azerbaijan. Subordinate units to the Headquarters are the two Combined Air Operations Centres at Uedem, Germany and Torrejón, Spain as well as the Deployable Air Command and Control Centre at Poggio Renatico, Italy.

Q: 2 One of the pivotal missions of NATO Air COM is to protect the Alliance’s fifth domain, by coordinating and supporting Allied space activities.  

Could you provide us an overview of this mission and what it entails?

NATO Air Command spokesman: NATO Air Power’s core purpose is and always will be the control and exploitation of the air domain to deliver a military effect for the Alliance. While this fundamental purpose is enduring, the capabilities brought to bear are constantly evolving. Modern Aircraft are the latest manifestation of this continuing evolution. These Modern Aircraft with their unique combination of low observable signature, multi-spectral fused sensors, unmatched speed and maneuverability as well as advanced logistics support take NATO Airpower to an entirely new level. When integrated with the Alliances existing fleets, these advanced machines provide NATO with a distinct advantage over any potential adversaries for the foreseeable future.

Q: 3  Could you please comment on the role played by NATO Air Command in maintaining peace, security, and stability in Europe and beyond?

NATO Air Command spokesman: The airspace over Europe sees an average of about 35,000 air movements per day, making it one of the busiest airspaces in the world. Any aircraft flying inside or approaching European NATO airspace that are unidentified, either through loss or intentional omission of communication with Air Traffic Control creates an unsafe environment, which could lead to an air incident.

NATO ensures the integrity, safety and security of its airspace by maintaining a 24/7/365 Air Policing mission, overseen by Allied Air Command.

In December 2019, NATO Heads of State and Government declared space as the Alliance’s “fifth domain” of operations, alongside land, sea, air and cyberspace. NATO Defence Ministers subsequently agreed to the creation of a space centre at NATO’s Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany during a meeting in October 2020.

Q: 4 In mid-July NATO Air and Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) had a joint exercise in the Black Sea in the framework of enhancing joint cooperation. 

What was the main strategic interest that formulated the combined cooperation as an essential aim?

NATO Air Command spokesman: NATO Allies frequently integrate Allied Air and Maritime assets to improve interoperability, build trust and enhance readiness in the Black Sea region during combined joint training events. The activities on July 2 underlined the Allies’ commitment to collective defence and to maintain peace and preserve security in this region both at sea and in the air.

Q: 5 This year’s annual exercise ‘BALTOPS50’ conducted June 16-18, involved the participation of 18 Armed Forces components of NATO member and partner nations. 

Could you detail the specific operational contribution of NATO Air Power in this exercise? 

NATO Air Command spokesman: During the maritime-focused exercise BALTOPS 50, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany, is responsible for planning, coordinating and controlling Allied air forces. For several years now, Allied Air Command has entrusted NATO’s northern CAOC at Uedem with planning and executing air command and control of air activities during the BALTOPS exercise series. Participants in this multinational exercise create and sustain partnerships and practice a broad range of mission areas to strengthen the capabilities of the participating naval and air units. More importantly, this exercise strengthens their ability to operate as a cohesive joint and combined force and respond to emerging crisis.

Additional news: NATO holds Air Defence Exercise in the Black Sea

Acknowledgments: Image of NATO Air Command HQ ©NATO Allied Air Command, NATO HQ Aircom 23/Cynthia Vernat, HQ Aircom PAO, January 15, 2016. The Interview is subject to Copyright Law.