A detachment of Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire Español: EdAE) Eurofighter combat aircraft and support staff arrived at Mihail Koglaniceanu Air Base on 25 January, marking the service’s first operational deployment to Romania in support of NATO.
Six EdAE Eurofighters and 130 personnel arrived at the base on Romania’s Black Sea coast, from where they will perform NATO’s Southern Air Policing mission through to the end of March.
“This is the first time that Spain has sent its] fighters to the southeast of NATO’s territory to support the alliance’s deterrence and defence measures,” NATO’s Allied Air Command said.
The Southern Air Policing mission, which includes Bulgarian airspace also, is part of NATO’s Enhanced Air Policing (EAP) mission that was introduced in 2015 in the wake of Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea and its military activities in eastern Ukraine. Further to this particular mission, NATO conducts EAP missions in Albania; the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; Iceland; Slovenia; and the BENELUX nations of Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
Controlled by Headquarters Air Command (HQ AIRCOM), located in Ramstein, Germany, the EAP missions are directed by one of two Combined Air Operation Centres (CAOCs). Those missions based north of an imaginary line that transects Europe along the Alps are directed by the CAOC at Uedem in Germany, while those located south of this line (including the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea) are directed by the CAOC at Torrejon in Spain.