NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence

  • Last updated: 15 Apr. 2019 16:52

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 to deter and defend against any air and missile threat or to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action.
  • NATO IAMD can address threats from the air, on land or at sea, which may include chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, as well as electromagnetic and cyber threats.
  • NATO IAMD 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.
  • 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 facilities and weapons systems.
  • NATINAMDS comes under the authority of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
  • Missions

    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 security 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’s 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. It represents a long-term investment against a long-term threat, and is purely defensive.

    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.

    A NATO IAMD mission in crisis and conflict depends on the specific nature of the threat. However, it can be subdivided into five specific subordinate missions:

    • Air Defence;
    • Ballistic Missile Defence;
    • Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence;
    • Cruise Missile Defence;
    • Counter Rockets, Mortar and Artillery;
    • Counter Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

    A multi-layered NATO IAMD is delivered through a mix of airborne and surface-based capabilities providing multiple engagement opportunities against any form of air or missile threat.

    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).

  • Mechanisms

    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 air power aspects. It reports 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, the senior military authority in NATO.

    Other groups dealing with air and missile defence-related issues include NATO’s Defence Policy and Planning Committee (Reinforced) for Missile Defence and the Conference of National Armaments Directors, NATO’s senior committee responsible for promoting cooperation between countries in the armaments field.

    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 and missile defence matters of common interest.

    This programme of cooperation includes meetings of air and missile defence experts, seminars and workshops, visits to air-related facilities and installations, and a programme for the exchange of air situation data.

  • 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 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.

    Over a period of more than 50 years, 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. It is responsive, cohesive and remains a cornerstone of Alliance solidarity and cohesion.