Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania strengthen airspace cooperation
At the margins of the NATO Summit in Vilnius on Tuesday (11 July 2023), Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania signed a Declaration of Cooperation on cross-border airspace. The relevant Allied civil and military authorities will establish and use suitable airspace volumes for NATO training and exercises, and other air activities within the Baltic region.
NATO’s ability to train at scale in the air domain represents a critical element of the Alliance collective deterrence and defence posture, as demonstrated by the recently held exercise “Air Defender 23.” Hosted by Germany, “Air Defender 23” represents the largest multinational air defence exercise conducted in NATO’s history. This exercise brought together around 10,000 personnel and 250 aircraft from 25 countries, including around 100 aircraft from 35 different U.S. states, training together in the airspace over Europe.
The use of larger volumes of national airspace by NATO requires close coordination and cooperation between civil and military authorities to deliver airspace solutions in a safe and flexible manner. Central to the cooperation between NATO and relevant civilian partners, is the strong standing and proven relationships built within NATO’s Aviation Committee, which was formed in 1955 (then known as the Committee for European Airspace Coordination (CEAC).
The NATO Aviation Committee’s mandate is to support the Alliance’s efforts to continue adapting to the rapidly evolving security environment in an increasingly complex and networked airspace. This includes the facilitation of appropriate inter-governmental agreements for cross-border airspace utilization.