PODGORICA, Montenegro - Italy and Greece started to provide fighter aircraft to execute NATO's Air Policing mission over Montenegro.
On the day of the anniversary of Montenegro's membership in NATO, a symbolic event took place at Podgorica Airport marking the start of NATO Air Policing over the country. Two Hellenic Air Force F-16 and two Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon jets executed a simulated intercept of a Montenegrin government Learjet. The Montenegrin Minister of Defence Predrag Boškovič, NATO's representative, Brigadier General Roberto di Marco, and the Italian Air Force representative, Major General Silvano Frigerio, watched the fighters flying up to Learjet, signal to the pilots and escort them to a safe landing to the military part of the Podgorica Airport.
"What we have witnessed today represents just a small part of the benefits that Montenegro enjoys from NATO membership. We made the right political decision on joining NATO, thereby securing our borders, airspace and sea, making them safer," said Minister of Defence Boškovič. "I would like to express my gratitude to all the Allies that have recognised and valued our efforts prior to becoming a members, and especially to Italy and Greece who agreed immediately to take over the responsibility of securing our skies," he added.
"One for all and all for one; Montenegro – like 28 Allies before – experiences today what this means," Brigadier General di Marco, Deputy Commander of NATO's Depoyable Air Command and Control Centre. "The cohesion of common values, the commitment to common security and the resolution to common deterrence and defence. NATO appreciates the valuable contributions Montenegro has made to our Euro-Atlantic security, including through the contributions to NATO-led missions and operations," he added
The jets symbolised a procedure that NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejon, Spain, will initiate when an unidentified track flies close to or inside NATO Allies' territories. Italian or Greek fighters will be launched to interrogate the corresponding aircraft. Such incidents often occur when civilian airliners lose communications with civilian air traffic controllers.
NATO's Air Policing involves radars and mobile sensors, air command and control systems and fighter jets to quickly, reliably and predictably to safeguard Allied skies. Since Montenegro does not have the necessary air capabilities, Greek and Italian fighters execute the mission ensuring a single standard of airspace security within the Supreme Allied Commander Europe's area of responsibility.
Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office