NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence

  • Last updated: 10 Jun. 2021 14:09

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


  • NATO IAMD is the defensive part of the Alliance’s Joint Air Power, which aims to ensure the stability and security of NATO airspace by coordinating, controlling and exploiting the air domain.
  • It incorporates all measures that contribute to deterring any air and missile threat, or to nullifying or reducing the effectiveness of hostile air action.
  • NATO IAMD aims to address the full spectrum of air and missile threats from the air, on land or at sea. The mission is conducted in a 360-degree approach to cope with threats emanating from all strategic directions.
  • The continuous NATO IAMD mission provides a highly responsive, robust, time-critical and persistent capability in order to achieve a desired level of control of the air, wherein the Alliance is able to conduct the full range of its missions.
  • In recent years, NATO has further enhanced its IAMD mission to ensure that it remains flexible and adaptive, taking into account increasingly diverse and challenging air and missile threats facing the Alliance, ranging from simple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to sophisticated hypersonic missiles.
  • NATO IAMD is implemented through the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS), a network of interconnected national and NATO systems comprised of sensors, command and control assets, and weapons systems.
  • NATINAMDS comes under the authority of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
  • Missions

    NATO IAMD missions vary depending on the specific circumstances of any concrete situation and can include Air Policing, Air Defence, Ballistic Missile Defence, Cruise Missile Defence, Counter Rockets, Mortar and Artillery, or Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

    Currently, there are two peacetime missions within the framework of NATO IAMD: NATO Air Policing and NATO Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD).

    NATO Air Policing preserves the integrity of Alliance airspace. It is a collective task and involves the continuous presence – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – of fighter interceptor aircraft, which are ready to react quickly to airspace violations and infringements.

    NATO BMD defends populations, territory and forces in NATO Europe against the increasing threat posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles from outside the Euro-Atlantic area.

    In times of crisis, NATO IAMD contributes to dissuading aggression and demonstrating Alliance resolve and readiness to counter hostile actions. NATO IAMD is an integral part of NATO’s crisis response system.

    Integration is an essential requirement for IAMD, as it provides coordination and synchronisation of all available air and missile defence capabilities. A key pre-requisite for integration is interoperability (procedural, technical and human interoperability).

  • Relevant NATO committees

    The Air and Missile Defence Committee (AMDC) is the senior policy committee responsible for all elements of NATO’s Integrated Air and Missile Defence and relevant Joint Air Power aspects. It reports to the North Atlantic Council (NAC), 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, the senior military authority in NATO.

    The Defence Policy and Planning Committee (Reinforced) for Missile Defence is responsible for political-military aspects of Ballistic Missile Defence. It also reports to the NAC.

    Another committee that reports to the NAC is the Conference of National Armaments Directors, which promotes cooperation between countries in the armaments field and oversees implementation of NATO’s BMD Programme.

  • Evolution

    Historically, NATO IAMD is an evolution of the concept of NATO Integrated Air Defence. The original concept was implemented in 1961 through the use of the NATO Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS) under the command and control of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

    During the Cold War, NATINADS was a largely static system arrayed in belts against a uni-directional and well-defined threat of manned aircraft. Since then, NATINADS has evolved into the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS), which meets the challenges of today's less predictable environment and which can deploy and address the full range of air and missile threats.

    In light of the significant deterioration of the Euro-Atlantic security environment over the last decade – including increasingly diverse and challenging air and missile threats facing the Alliance, ranging from simple unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to sophisticated hypersonic missiles – NATO has further enhanced its IAMD mission to ensure that it remains flexible and adaptive. Responsive IAMD remains a cornerstone of Alliance solidarity and cohesion.