NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence

  • Last updated: 09 Feb. 2016 14:35

NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence (NIAMD) is an essential, continuous mission in peacetime, crisis and times of conflict, which safeguards and protects Alliance territory, populations and forces against any air and missile threat and attack. It contributes to deterrence and to indivisible security and freedom of action of the Alliance.


  • NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence (NIAMD) ranges from NATO air policing in peacetime to the actions necessary to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of air and missile threats during times of crisis and conflict.
  • NIAMD provides a highly responsive, time-critical, persistent capability in order to achieve a desired or necessary level of control of the air to allow the Alliance to conduct the full range of its missions.
  • It integrates a network of interconnected national and NATO systems comprised of sensors, command and control facilities and weapons systems.
  • The system known as the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS) detects, tracks, identifies and monitors airborne objects (for instance aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles and ballistic missiles), and – if necessary – intercepts them using surface-based or airborne weapons systems.
  • NIAMD comes under the authority of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
  • Components

    The NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS) is comprised of the four functional areas of Surveillance, Active Air Defence, Passive Air Defence and Battle Management Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (BMC3I).  


    Continuous surveillance of NATO airspace and the airspace over deployed forces, protected areas and high value assets/areas, whenever required, is an essential prerequisite to maintain a desired or necessary level of control of the air. Surveillance enables the flow of continuous, comprehensive and detailed information to promote situational awareness, and facilitate the decision-making process.

    Active Air Defence

    It is defined as active measures taken against attacking enemy forces to destroy or nullify any form of air and missile threat or to reduce the effectiveness of such an attack. It comprises two mission areas: airborne air defence and surface-based air and missile defence (SBAMD), which includes ballistic missile defence (BMD).

    Passive Air Defence

    These are all measures other than Active Air Defence, taken to minimise the effectiveness of hostile air action. It increases survivability by reducing the likelihood of being detected and targeted, and by taking actions that mitigate the potential effects of aerial and ballistic missile attacks. Additional measures are taken in coordination with civilian organisations, as required, in order to minimise the effectiveness of the air and missile threat through individual and collective civil protection.

    Battle Management Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence

    BMC3I provides the necessary gathering, processing and exchange of information needed to effectively coordinate and synchronise the other three functional areas of NATINAMDS, thus enabling the effective use of assigned assets, whenever and wherever needed.

    BMC3I is essential to the success of any operation.

    In recognition of the fact that military operations increasingly combine forces from different nations and/or services, NATO has developed a new, more robust command and control (C2) system for all air operations. This system, called Air Command and Control System (ACCS), will facilitate the planning, tasking, execution and coordination of all integrated air and missile defence missions in peacetime, crisis and conflict. ACCS will support all of NATO’s static and deployed operations and missions.

  • Tasks

    NATO air policing

    NIAMD contributes through the NATO Air Policing mission to the preservation of the integrity of Alliance airspace.

    NATO air policing is a peacetime mission which requires an Air Surveillance and Control System (ASACS), an Air Command and Control (Air C2) structure and Quick Reaction Alert (Interceptor) (QRA(I)) aircraft to be available on a 24/7 basis. This enables the Alliance to detect, track and identify to the greatest extent possible all aerial objects approaching or operating within NATO airspace so that violations and infringements can be recognised, and appropriate action taken.

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

    The Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) is responsible for the conduct of the NATO Air Policing mission.

    Air and missile defence

    In times of crisis and conflict, NIAMD contributes to Alliance security by providing effective and efficient protection of populations, territory and forces against air and missile threats and by achieving and maintaining the desired level of control of the air to allow NATO forces to conduct the full range of missions.

    This requires the Alliance to be capable of simultaneously executing airborne and surface-based air and missile defence missions with the appropriate C2 arrangements in place.

  • Mechanisms

    The Air and Missile Defence Committee (AMDC) is the senior policy advisory and coordinating body regarding all elements of NATO’s integrated air and missile defence, and relevant air power aspects. It reports directly to the North Atlantic Council, the Alliance’s principal political decision-making body.

    The Military Committee Working Group for Air and Missile Defence is responsible for reviewing, advising and making recommendations on military aspects of air and missile defence issues to NATO’s Military Committee.

    Other groups dealing with air and missile defence-related issues include NATO’s Defence Policy and Planning Committee (Reinforced) with particular responsibility for BMD or the Conference of National Armaments Directors.

    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. This programme of cooperation includes meetings of air defence experts, seminars and workshops, visits to air defence facilities and installations, and a programme for the exchange of unclassified air situation data (Air Situation Data Exchange - ASDE).

  • Evolution

    The NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS) has been a cornerstone of the defence posture of the Alliance since its inception in 1961. It has contributed to NATO’s core tasks of collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.

    NATINADS was the Alliance’s only proven, verified and effective 24/7 operational capability where national authority to defend Allies was assigned to NATO on a permanent basis and where national resources were employed under a NATO C2 structure.

    At the Lisbon Summit in 2010, Allied leaders agreed to develop a BMD capability to pursue its core task of collective defence. Using the NATINADS as a baseline, the Alliance is developing the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS), which now also includes the respective BMD elements.

    At the Chicago Summit in 2012, Allied leaders declared that the Alliance achieved an interim NATO BMD capability, which was considered an operationally significant first step.  With the advent of an Alliance BMD capability, NATINADS became NATINAMDS.