RAMSTEIN, Germany – International media on-board an A-330 MRTT aircraft saw see first-hand how NATO Allies collectively conduct NATO’s Air Policing day in day out preserving the integrity of NATO airspace and safeguarding Allied skies. The Swedish Air Force also joined the flight demonstrating cooperation and interoperability with the Allies.
Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) in close cooperation with the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) unit (MMU) and the European Air Transport Command (EATC) conducted the media flight with an MMU A-330 MRTT aircraft on July 4, 2023. The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg sponsored the flight, and the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany, coordinated the fighter activity with the Nations.
Two Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16s were the first jets to simulate the intercept of the MMU A-330 MRTT aircraft after taking off from Eindhoven, the Netherlands Photo by Arnaud Chamberlin.
Swedish Air Force JAS-39 Gripen fighters demonstrated their close cooperation and deep interoperability with NATO Air Forces.
Photo by Arnaud Chamberlin
Romanian Air Force F-16 fighters from NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission escorted the MMU A-330 MRTT plane in Lithuanian airspace. Photo by Arnaud Chamberlin.
Some fighters, like this Royal Air Force Typhoon jet conducted air-to-air refueling demonstrating this critical enabling skill for NATO Air Power. Photo by Arnaud Chamberlin.
“Besides the enduring Air Policing mission, NATO and the Allies have been focusing on a further increasing of our ability to coordinate and execute complex multinational deterrence and defence operations,” said Major General Harold Van Pee, Commander of NATO’s northern Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, who joined the flight. “We conduct enhanced Vigilance Activities in compliance with international laws and standards. They are a clear expression of NATO’s commitment and readiness to enhance regional security and stability,” General Van Pee added.
During the flight from Eindhoven via Šiauliai Air Base and back, virtually around the Baltic Sea, Allied fighter jets from eight nations and Partner Sweden simulated aerial interceptions of the A-330. Several of the fighters conducted air-to-air refueling with the plane showcasing how NATO’s interoperable and interconnected air forces manoeuvre closely coordinated across borders in a safe, defensive and professional manner.
While stopping over at Šiauliai Air Base, the international journalists visited the Portuguese and Romanian fighter jets currently deployed in Lithuania patrolling the skies above the Baltic Allies and demonstrating Alliance cohesion and commitment.
“Today NATO and our Allies demonstrated to you that Allied Air Power has the capability, readiness and legitimacy to defend the territorial integrity of NATO Nations particularly on the eastern flank,” General Van Pee summarised the flight. “Together, we are going to continue promoting peace and stability as a unified Alliance across the Euro-Atlantic area. You have seen what our capable, professional and interoperable air forces are able to achieve in support of the NATO Alliance’s overall aim to protect the people in our member countries,” he concluded.
On behalf of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, NATO’s Allied Air Command, via its two CAOCs at Uedem, Germany, and Torrejon, Spain, conducts Air Policing in order to safeguard the airspace over European NATO Allies. NATO’s CAOCs initiate and monitor all launches of NATO-assigned Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) (I) and report to AIRCOM where all information about intercepts are registered. With this task, the air forces of the Allies under NATO command and control reliably ensure security and protection while at the same time demonstrating a credible capability to deter potential aggression and, if necessary, defend NATO members’ territorial integrity.