Belgium, Netherlands to take turns in policing Benelux airspace.
|Belgian Air Force F-16|
On Jan 1, 2017, a new arrangement for NATO Air Policing will start for the airspace of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (BENELUX). The Belgian Air Component and the Royal Netherlands Air Force will take four-months turns to ensure Quick Reaction Alert (Intercept) fighter jets are available 24/7/365 to be launched under NATO control.
The Ministers of Defence of Belgium and the Netherlands officially announced this new way of executing the peacetime mission of Air Policing on March 4, 2015. On December 21, the technical arrangement (TA) was signed by the Dutch Commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, the Belgian Commander of the Air Component and the Ambassador of Luxembourg. For the first four months in 2017, Belgian F-16 fighter jets will provide the first rotation to conduct integrated Air Policing and hand over to the Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 jets for the second four months; both air forces will subsequently rotate this mission.
The arrangements coordinated among the three Allies cover a common area of interest, the airspace of BENELUX and include provision for border-crossing activities of aircraft assigned to NATO Air Policing.
This rotational integrated Air Policing arrangement permits to achieve synergies that can be used to better sustain upcoming tasks for both Allied air forces. It is another example of Smart Defence, pooling and sharing military capabilities among Allied Nations. This cooperative way helps generate modern defence capabilities for the Alliance in a more cost-efficient, effective and coherent manner.
In the past Belgian fighter aircraft provided NATO Air Policing cover for Belgium and Luxembourg while Netherlands jets covered their own airspace; they were controlled by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, part of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. This command and control concept will not change.
NATO Air Policing is a peacetime mission overseen by Allied Air Command at Ramstein, Germany. Two Allied CAOCs – one at Uedem, Germany and one at Torrejon, Spain – plan, direct, task coordinate and supervise the launch of fighter aircraft to preserve the integrity of NATO airspace.
Source: HQ AIRCOM PAO