On 4 July 2023, Allied Air Command (AIRCOM) in close cooperation with the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) unit (MMU) and the European Air Transport Command (EATC), conducted a media flight with an Airbus A-330 Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. The Ministry of Defence of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg sponsored the flight, and the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) at Uedem, Germany, coordinated the fighter activity with the nations. International media on the flight from Eindhoven via Šiauliai Air Base (Lithuania) and back, had the opportunity to experience how NATO Allies conduct NATO’s Air Policing to protect the Alliance’s airspace.
During the flight, Allied fighter jets from eight nations and Partner Sweden simulated aerial interceptions of the A-330 MRTT. Several of the fighters also conducted air-to-air refuelling with the A-330 MRTT, showcasing NATO’s interoperable and interconnected air forces manoeuvre closely coordinated across borders in a safe, defensive and professional manner. While stopping briefly at Šiauliai Air Base, the international journalists could witness the Scramble of two fighter jets currently deployed in Lithuania patrolling the skies.
The MMF programme provides strategic transport, air-to-air refueling and medical evacuation capabilities to its participating nations. Owned by NATO and managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), the NSPA MMF team is based at the NSPA headquarters in Capellen (Luxembourg), while the MMU provide support from other locations (Eindhoven, Cologne-Wahn, Bonn and Getafe). NSPA provides this support to participating nations through the MMF Support Partnership. The MMF programme is based on a pooling and sharing concept in which the participating Nations pool the aircraft and share costs while benefiting from economies of scale. This Capability also stands out as a unique example of effective cooperation between NATO and the European Union in delivering critical capabilities.
NATO Air Policing is a fundamental component of how NATO provides security to its members. It scrambles respond to military and civilian aircraft that do not follow international flight regulations and approach Allies’ airspace. These actions could create unsafe environments and may cause air-to-air accidents. They may also indicate hostile acts such as hijackings. Air Policing inside and near NATO Alliance airspace will continue to respond to aircraft not complying with international flight regulations or aircraft operating near NATO boundaries. NATO Air Policing remains a significant demonstration of the Allies’ collective commitment to safeguarding NATO airspace, and deterrence and defence.