RAMSTEIN, Germany - This year marks 20 years since - on 29 March 2004 - Slovenia joined NATO, and the country has been part of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS). The system ensures the continuous exchange of airspace information with the Alliance and the protection of Slovenian airspace by Allied and Slovenian military interceptor aircraft as Slovenia's Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) monitors and controls the country's airspace 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Since 2004, Slovenian airspace has constituted a part of NATO airspace protected by the complex NATINAMDS, which also includes Air Policing over Slovenia
Exactly 10 years ago, on January 17, 2014, Slovenia signed an agreement with Hungary enabling Hungarian Air Force JAS-39 Gripen fighters to take part in the protection of the Republic of Slovenia's airspace.
“Since 2004, Slovenian airspace has constituted a part of NATO airspace and the Alliance protects its airspace by the complex NATINAMDS, which also includes Air Policing activities over Slovenia. The objective of Air Policing is to safeguard and preserve the sovereignty of Allied airspace by maintaining a permanent presence of Allied interceptor aircraft and crews, which are ready to respond to any airspace incident at short notice,” said CRC Commander Major Samo Mali.
The protection of Slovenian airspace – and the airspace above all Allies – is composed of airspace surveillance and control, Command and Control, and Air Policing assets. Airspace control falls under the responsibility of Slovenia’s 16th CRC located at Brnik, which uses a modern and advanced Multi-Aegis Site Emulator/MASE Integrated Console Environment (MASE/MICE) air command and control system, fully interoperable with NATO. In 2022, part of the personnel moved to a new operations room in the underground part of the facility at Brnik enhancing operation of airspace surveillance and control out of improved facilities under more favourable conditions.
Slovenia's 16th Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) at Brnik monitors and controls the country's airspace 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - integrated into NATO arrangements. Photo courtesy Slovenian Armed Forces.
Since 2014, Hungarian JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets from the Hungarian air base at Kecskemét ensure NATO interceptors are available for Air Policing over Slovenia. Archive photo depicting a training event by Slovenian Armed Forces.
Since 2007, Italian Eurofighters flying from their home bases in Italy have provided for NATO Air Policing over Slovenia. Archive photo depicting a training event by Miro Majcen.
During a training event, a Hungarian JAS-39 Gripen fighter simulates an intercept of a Slovenian government Falcon jet. By the Slovenian Armed Forces.
Military and civilian radars provide data on activities in Slovenian airspace, which the CRC feeds into NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre in Torrejon, Spain. Command and control at the national level fall under the responsibility of the Slovenian Armed Forces’ Operations Centre in Slovenia’s Force Command. Interceptor aircraft on standby in Slovenia, Italy and Hungary Air Policing ready to conduct Air Policing sorties if required. After joining the Alliance in 2004, Slovenia began to ensure airspace protection as part of NATINAMDS with the help of NATO assets.
Since 2007, due to the country's limited air interception capabilities, Italian Eurofighter F-2000 Typhoon interceptor aircraft, taking off from their home bases in Italy, have been providing a fast-jet interceptor capability for Slovenian airspace protection around the clock. Since the signing of the agreement between the Slovenian and Hungarian Defence Ministers ten years ago, on 17 January 2014, Hungarian JAS-39 Gripen interceptors from the Hungarian air base at Kecskemét have also available to safeguard Slovenia’s airspace.
“Allied interceptor aircraft fly missions under NATO command; they provide Slovenia with the opportunity to conduct high-quality training for the operation of aircraft in accordance with NATO standards and procedures. We are grateful for this expression of Alliance solidarity and cohesion,” said Slovenia's 15th Wing Commander Colonel Janez Gaube, who is also the country's Air Chief. “Since 2017, Slovenian Pilatus PC-9M aircraft flying under the command of the Slovenian Armed Forces have also contributed to airspace protection. Joint training of surveillance and control procedures and airspace protection in Slovenian airspace is conducted weekly in the form of interception exercises, including with Italian and Hungarian aircraft. Joint training with allies also takes place during multinational exercises,” he added.
“Our CRC’s airspace surveillance and control specialist staff is highly qualified in various fields and integrated into the Slovenian Armed Forces command structures from the strategic to the tactical level. Our integration into NATO structures is epitomised by three members of the CRC who are deployed on international duties at NATO’s CAOC Torrejón and Allied Air Command in Ramstein,” he concluded.