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Jun 15 2022

NATO Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem controls largest BALTOPS air play

UEDEM, Germany - From June 5 to 17, fourteen NATO Allies and Partners Finland and Sweden are participating in the multinational maritime-focused annual exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS). NATO's Northern Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) staff ensure control of participating aircraft.

We are controlling the 'air-heaviest' BALTOPS scenario in the history of the exercise, with more than 75 Allied and Partner aircraft ... we are planning over 400 sorties which more than doubles our sorties from last year

"CAOC Uedem has been assigned the lead in planning, coordinating, controlling and monitoring the air operations integrated into the BALTOPS exercise enabling realistic multi-domain training of approximately 7,000 personnel from NATO Allies and Partner nations," said Colonel Wilhelm May, the Exercise Air Director at the CAOC, who also oversaw the air play during the 50th edition of BALTOPS in 2021.

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Colonel Wilhelm May presents the BALTOPS team's area in the CAOC Operations Room to Major General Harold van Pee, CAOC Commander, and Major Mikael Joensson, Swedish liaison officer for BALTOPS. 
Photo by Patrik Bransmöller.
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A formation of Allied and Partner fighter jets during an overflight of BALTOPS ships demonstrating interoperability and cooperation in support of Alliance multi-domain operations. 
Photo by Christian Timmig.
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Colonel Wilhelm May discussing air matters in support of BALTOPS with his team in the CAOC Operations Rooms.
 Photo by Patrik Bransmöller.
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A formation of Allied and Partner fighter jets led by a German A400M during BALTOPS. 
Photo by Christian Timmig.

"This year, we are controlling the 'air-heaviest' BALTOPS scenario in the history of the exercise, with a total of more than 75 Allied and Partner aircraft operating from sea-based and land-based platforms. We are planning over 400 sorties which more than doubles our sorties from last year," said Colonel May. "The missions we are controlling cover the whole spectrum from air-maritime, air-air and air-to-ground to anti-submarine, air-to-air refuelling and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance drills. We have up to 40 aircraft airborne in one 3-hour serial," he added underlining the complexity of his team's task.

The growth in aircraft sorties is also facilitated by the fact that – for the second time – BALTOPS integrates the German-led Multinational Air Group Days (MAGDAYs) generating additional sorties in support of the joint maritime-led training drills. Fighter jets from Germany, Belgium, Turkey, the United States and Partners Finland and Sweden as well as NATO E-3A and tanker aircraft are involved in this training event within the NATO concept of the Multinational Air Group for which German is a framework nation.

"While the MAGDAY integration into BALTOPS means an increased coordination and integration effort for the maritime and air assets, it also enhances the complexity and quality of exercise objectives for all participants," Colonel May concluded.

Besides this recurring task of controlling air activities during multinational exercises, the CAOC is responsible for NATO Air Policing in central and northern Europe ensuring the integrity of NATO's airspace and contributing to deterrence and defence efforts.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

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