On September 1, the Czech Republic and Poland will provide an Air Policing capability protecting the integrity of Slovakia’s airspace temporarily. At the end of August, the Defence Ministers Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia signed the agreement to ensure continued Air Policing above Slovakia. The Slovak Air Force will end using its MiG-29 fighter fleet and prepares for assigning F-16 jets to this mission sometime in 2024. Czech and Polish will have fighter aircraft ready at their respective home bases to be launched in case of need to conduct Quick Reaction Alert missions in the Slovak airspace e.g. to identify unknown aircraft tracks and secure the skies of the Ally.
“The conflict in Ukraine showed us how important unity within NATO and mutual help among Allies are. I am delighted to discuss on behalf of the Czech Republic the provision of assistance to our Slovak neighbours on the defence of their airspace”, said the Czech Defence Minister Jana ?ernochová.
“Polish fighters will preferably be taking off from a base located on Polish territory. Czech fighters will also provide air policing tasks from a base located on the territory of the Czech Republic and will return to their home bases once the mission is completed,” the spokespersonwoman for the Slovak Defense Ministry said.
“The protection of Slovak airspace by Polish and Czech Air Forces is within the spirit of the Alliance. The decision to offer the protection was quick one as we have seen it as a contribution to our common security, because we are stronger together,” said Mariusz Blaszczak, Polish Minister of Defence.
Since 2017, the Czech and the Slovak Air Force had agreements in place to fly in each other’s airspace to conduct Air Policing. Being responsible for Allied Air Policing in the northern region, NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem will coordinate and control these temporary arrangements. A similar agreement exists for the BENELUX States, where Belgian and Netherlands fighters are taking turns to ensure fighter aircraft are ready to cover Luxembourg airspace. Building on their experience from this type of border crossing activities the CAOC staff will ensure smooth and seamless operations securing NATO airspace.