Interview with the NATO Air Command Spokesman (series-2)

Special Edition Interview with the NATO Allied Air Command Spokesperson conducted by Editor in Chief, Catherine S. Schmidt

Q: What is the role of Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) and its position and response to the Russian war in Ukraine?

NATO Allied Air Command Spokesperson: While not a party to the war that Russia is waging in Ukraine, NATO stands united and in full solidarity with the government and people of Ukraine in the defence of their country. NATO nations are providing unprecedented support to help Ukraine uphold its right to self-defence, which is enshrined in the UN Charter. NATO has made clear that it will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes. At the same time NATO remains vigilant, calm and closely coordinated, and will always do what is necessary to protect and defend all Allies.

In response, NATO has substantially increased the number of fighter jets on alert across Eastern Europe to send a clear message that we stand ready protect and defend every inch of allied territory. In the wake of Russia’s war, there has been an increased use of missiles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and combat aircraft close to the borders of NATO nations. NATO air forces have bolstered their presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. Their presence helps to shield NATO against any aggression.  Several dozen fighter jets are on alert at all time to respond to possible airspace violations and to deter aggression under our 24/7 collective defence Air Policing mission.

Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) has integrated the Allied air forces’ fighters, air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft as well as Allied and NATO E-3A/Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) platforms into the standing arrangements to safeguard the skies above the Allies. These assets enable NATO to patrol the Allied airspace and have 24/7 situational awareness above NATO and adjacent territory. Allied fighters take off from their home bases, forward deployment bases or carriers flying Air Patrol missions along the Alliance’s eastern flank.

Besides our Alliance-wide Air Policing efforts, the NATO Air Shielding mission integrates Allied Air and Surface-Based Air and Missile Defence (SBAMD) units into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence (IAMD) system. Commanded and controlled out of Allied Air Command this will provide a near seamless shield from the Baltic to Black Seas, ensuring NATO Allies are better able to safeguard and protect Alliance territory, populations and forces from air and missile threat. This enhanced posture allows the Alliance to deter and mitigate any potential adversarial threat. Our missions are conducted in compliance with international laws and standards.

Q: In regard to Baltic region security, how is the current air policing on the eastern flank operating?

NATO Allied Air Command Spokesperson: We continue our 24/7 Air Policing mission; this collective effort by all our Allies safeguards the airspace of the NATO member nations and preserves its integrity. Allied Air Command via its two Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) in Uedem, Germany, and Torrejón, Spain, continues to lead and execute this mission especially in Iceland, the Baltic Region, the Western Balkans or the eastern flank where Allied fighter detachments take turns working with local air forces to ensure the security of our populations and territory.

Q: Could you please give us the highlight of the NATO’s rotational deterrence and defense posture of  2022 as well as the current one?

NATO Allied Air Command Spokesperson: AIRCOM’s commitment to collective deterrence and defence is unfaltering. I is great to see how virtually all Allies contribute to our enhanced posture. Our Air Policing posture continues to effectively safeguard the airspace above all our Allies under NATO Command and Control ensured by our CAOCs. Last year, Hungary, Spain, Poland together with Germany, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Belgium, the United States, Denmark supported our Air Policing mission in the North, and Spain, Germany, the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada were deployed to Romania and Bulgaria to enhance that mission in the south, Portugal, Italy and Denmark flew patrols of the Icelandic Airspace. As we speak these missions are ongoing with Poland, France, Germany and the Netherlands in the North, Italy and Spain in the South and Norway in Iceland. 

Q: Please elaborate on the allies and partners multi-national exercises and vigilance activities from Baltic to the Arctic regions.

NATO Allied Air Command Spokesperson: NATO’s enhanced Vigilance Activities allow our Allies to join forces and practice cooperation and combined joint missions. We have done so and continue to do so during complex training drills and exercises in the Baltic Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean and the North Sea. Our Joint Force Air Component – that we stood up at Allied Air Command with the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – controls and coordinates all these activities; they also involve Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions conducted by our Allies’ assets, the E-3A AWACS planes and the Alliance Ground Surveillance Force RQ-4D remotely piloted aircraft; and they are closely coordinated with Surface Based Air and Missile Defence systems. These exercises that also include carrier strike groups at sea, strategic bombers in the air and joint terminal attack controllers and air defence systems on the ground ensure that all participants are able to train across the whole spectrum of Joint Air Power demonstrating NATO’s commitment, cohesion and capability. Our training and exercise activities in the Baltic and Arctic regions have included Finland and Sweden – our regional Partners who are soon going to join the NATO Alliance.


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Acknowledgments: Image courtesy of NATO Allied Air Command. Interview is subject to Copyright Law. ©NATO Allied Air Command/NATO