AOCS NM is home of Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) Bandbox operating under NATO's 24/7 peacetime Air Policing mission. It provides the Recognised Air Picture – an overview of all air traffic in the Netherlands Area of responsibility – to the Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, which is responsible for NATO Air Policing north of the Alps.
My team is safeguarding NATO and national airspace 24/7
"The AOCS NM is located in the heart of the Veluwe Region, one of the most scenic nature areas in the country," said Lieutenant Colonel Yvo Giesselbach, Commanding Officer of the CRC. Besides the CRC, the AOCS NM hosts two other squadrons and base support entities. For its mission, the CRC uses two radars for air surveillance and early warning: the new Signal Multi-beam Acquisition Radar for Targeting, Long-range, Multi-Mission Fixed (SMART-L MM/F) radar located in the north of the country and an older Medium Power Radar (MPR) based at AOCS NM itself, which will be replaced by a SMART-L MM/F radar in the near future as well.
Established in 1949, AOCS NM has been the central location in the Netherlands to monitor NATO-designated airspace over the North Sea and control national F-16 and F-35 fighter aircraft missions. The CRC Bandbox
and the National Datalink Management Cell or "NDMC" (call sign "Skynet") at AOCS NM are part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS).
"As AOCS NM is not a traditional air base hosting aircraft, it remains quiet and almost invisibly hidden in the scenery," said Lieutenant Colonel Giesselbach. "However, my team is safeguarding NATO and national airspace 24/7," he added.
Quick Reaction Alert (QRA)
In 2015, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed an agreement to conduct joint Air Policing of their territories. Under the agreement, the Belgian and Dutch Air Forces are to secure and defend the Benelux airspace on a rotational basis. The joint operation started on January 1st, 2017 and the QRA fighter aircraft secure the Benelux countries against civil and military aircraft that do not comply with international aviation rules and may pose a threat.
"There are always two armed F-16 fighter aircraft ready for take-off for missions to secure the airspace over Benelux," says Lieutenant Colonel Giesselbach. "Upon an order from CRC, the F-16s are airborne within minutes executing a scramble. The Fighter Controller guides the F-16s to a target aircraft to conduct an intercept and the fighter pilots identify the aircraft on sight and try to make radio contact; they accompany the intercepted aircraft for as long as necessary. In extreme cases, they may be instructed to take further action to enforce compliance from the intercepted aircraft," he explained..