NATO - North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence

NATO nations started working together in the 1970s to establish an integrated air defence structure and system, combining national assets supplemented as necessary by NATO elements. Operating in a collective manner is more effective and efficient in protecting against air attacks than national air defence systems operating independently. With the advent of an Alliance ballistic missile defence capability, this structure is now known as the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System. It comes under the command and control of Supreme Allied Commander Europe.

NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence is the integration of capabilities and overlapping operations of all services (air, land and maritime forces) to deter and defend against any threat to the safety of Allied populations and forces and the security of Alliance territory.

It includes a network of interconnected systems to detect, track, classify, identify and monitor airborne objects, and – if necessary – to intercept them using surface-based or airborne weapons systems, as well as the procedures necessary to employ the systems.

  • Components

    The NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS) comprises sensors, command and control facilities and weapons systems, such as surface-based air defence and fighter aircraft. It is a cornerstone of NATO air and missile defence policy, and a visible indication of cohesion, shared responsibility and solidarity across the Alliance.

    The Air Command and Control System

    Air Command and Control (Air C2) is essential to the success of any operation. The Air C2 structure in NATO has been a patchwork of disparate and aging systems that in many cases are reaching the end of their planned operational life.

    More than a decade ago – in recognition of the increasingly joint and combined nature of military operations and the necessity of replacing increasingly difficult to maintain equipment – NATO began to plan for and develop a new and more robust capability that would be a C2 system for all air operations. This system, called Air Command and Control System (ACCS), will facilitate the planning, tasking and execution of all air missions, as well as support NATO’s deployed operations and missions.

  • Tasks

    NATO air policing

    Air policing is a collective peacetime mission that requires an Air Surveillance and Control System, an Air C2 structure and appropriate interceptor aircraft, usually fighters, to be available continuously. This enables the Alliance to detect, track and identify all violations and infringements of its airspace and to take the appropriate action, which may involve scrambling interceptor aircraft to assist in the process.

    Although not all Allies possess the necessary means to provide air policing of their airspace, other nations provide assistance when needed to ensure that no nation is left at a disadvantage and equality of security is provided for all.

    The Supreme Allied Commander Europe is responsible for conduct of the NATO air policing mission.

    Theatre ballistic missile defence/ ballistic missile defence

    In 2010, NATO acquired the first phase of an initial theatre ballistic missile defence (TBMD) capability to protect Alliance forces against ballistic missile threats.

    At the 2010 NATO Summit in Lisbon, NATO’s leaders decided to develop a BMD capability to pursue its core task of collective defence. To this end, they decided that the scope of the current Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence (ALTBMD) programme’s command, control and communication capabilities would be expanded beyond the capability to protect deployed forces to also include NATO European territory, forces and populations.

    In this context, the United States’ European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) and other possible national contributions were welcomed as valuable national contributions to the NATO BMD architecture.

    In May 2012, NATO Heads of State and Government declared at the Chicago Summit that the Alliance had achieved Interim NATO BMD capability. This is a significant first step in implementing NATO’s BMD capability. It offers the maximum coverage within available means to defend NATO’s populations, territory and forces across southern Europe against a ballistic missile attack. The Alliance remains committed to installing full BMD coverage for all NATO territory by the end of this decade.

  • Mechanisms

    The Air and Missile Defence Committee (AMDC) is the senior multinational policy advisory and coordinating body regarding all elements of NATO’s integrated air and missile defence and relevant air power aspects in a joint approach. It reports directly to the North Atlantic Council and is supported by its Panel on Air and Missile Defence and two Drafting Groups. The AMDC meets in Heads of Delegation (twice yearly) and Permanent Session (monthly) formats.

    The Military Committee Working Group (Air Defence) is responsible for reviewing, advising and making recommendations to the Military Committee on air and missile defence issues.

    Other groups dealing with air and missile defence-related issues include the Defence Policy and Planning Committee (Reinforced) with particular responsibilities on ballistic missile defence, the Missile Defence Project Group, which oversees the BMD Programme Office, and the NATO-Russia Council Missile Defence Working Group.

    AMDC and cooperation with partners

    Since 1994, the AMDC has maintained a dialogue with NATO partner countries to promote mutual understanding, transparency and confidence in air defence matters of common interest.

    The air defence partner cooperation programme includes fact-finding meetings with air defence experts, seminars and workshops, visits to air defence facilities and installations, joint analytical studies and a programme for the exchange of unclassified air situation data. 

Last updated: 16-Apr-2014 15:45

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