Overseen by Allied Air Command via two Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) in Germany and Spain, NATO Air Policing ensures the integrity of Allies' airspace in Europe and protects Alliance nations by maintaining a continuous 24/7 alert posture. Within NATO's Integrated Air and Missile Defence, the Air Policing mission involves the use of the Air Surveillance and Control System – based on the Control and Reporting Centres (CRCs) – to produce a Recognised Air Picture, Air Command and Control at CAOC level and Quick Reaction Air (Interceptor) fighter aircraft provided by the Nations. Air Policing scrambles respond to military and civilian aircraft that do not comply with international flight regulations and approach Allies' airspace.
For NATO nations that do not have the necessary air capabilities, agreements exist to safeguard the airspace over all Allies to the same standard. Slovenia is one such Ally.
We are proud of our contribution to NATO's Integrated Air and Missile Defence and thank the Allies for their cooperation
"We are pleased with the arrangement the Alliance has implemented since we joined NATO in 2004," said Lieutenant Colonel Janez Gaube, the Chief of the Slovenian Air Force. "Italy and Hungary have agreed to cover the airspace over Slovenia. They launch their fighter aircraft under CAOC Torrejon control in case we have an unclear situation within our airspace," he added.
"To ensure this arrangement works flawlessly, we conduct regular training events with Hungarian Gripen and Italian Eurofighter aircraft," stated Lieutenant Colonel Gaube. "Our staff at the Ljubljana Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) has direct connections with the CAOC and civilian air traffic control and control the fighter jets during the event," he added.
Since Slovenia's airspace is one of the smallest in Europe, it is important that the CRC at Ljubljana is constantly and closely integrated with its neighbouring CRCs and the CAOC. In a collective interconnected effort, these units establish a recognised air picture within their respective areas of responsibility thus allowing them to monitor all flight tracks and act swiftly in case one such track does not act the way it is supposed to. Such cases will then eventually be dealt with by the fighter aircraft as a last resort which may intercept the pertinent aircraft and visually communicate with the pilot using standardised international signals.
"We are proud of our contribution to NATO's Integrated Air and Missile Defence," said Chief of the Slovenian Air Force. "I would like to use this opportunity to thank both Italy and Hungary as well as our NATO colleagues at the CAOC and Allied Air Command for safeguarding our airspace in this perfect example of applied collective defence in peacetime," he added in conclusion.