NATO Conducts Exercise on Southeastern Flank

March 4, 2021 – Aircraft and ships from multiple Allied nations conducted a complex multi-domain mission stretching from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea March 3rd.

In the early morning, two French Navy Rafale fighters and an E-2 Hawkeye tactical battle management airborne early warning, command and control aircraft took off from the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. The carrier is a mobile air station offering flexibility in the air and sea domain with a rapid ability to deploy around the world. The Rafale joined up with their two Eurofighter escorts from the Spanish enhanced Air Policing (eAP) detachment based in Romania under NATO orders. The strike package headed to the Black Sea to test the defenses of NATO maritime and air forces taking part in Exercise Poseidon 21. The multinational training is being conducted in Romanian territorial waters and is designed to enhance the interoperability of NATO security forces in the region.

“For the Spanish eAP Detachment, this joint and combined exercise Poseidon is a great training opportunity as it allows our aircrews to improve in different aspects including flexibility and interoperability, which are the cornerstone of NATO’s Collective Defence,” stated Lieutenant Colonel José Enrique Hernández Medel, Spanish Detachment Commander. “The participation of Spanish Eurofighters, given their high performances and capabilities, enhances the training from which all participating forces will benefit,” he added.

Three Romanian F-16 fighters formed a combat air patrol to intercept the incoming raid and protect the maritime forces exercising off the coast of Romania. Key Allied force enablers supported the mission.

NATO E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft flying out of Konya Air Base, Turkey, provided surveillance data and a battle-space management capability vital to multi-domain operations. An Italian KC-767 Air-to-Air Refueling aircraft brought another critical capability extending the reach and endurance of Allied fighters and allowing them to cover a wide operational area.

“The team have delivered outstanding results in a compressed timeline demonstrating the ability to successfully integrate NATO assets across a wide operational area,” said Brigadier General Andrew Hansen, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, Allied Air Command. “We operate in a complex security environment which demands a high level of cooperation. Multinational air and maritime exercises deepen the enduring cohesion of the NATO Alliance and build crucial relationships for the future,” he added.

NATO’s southern Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejón, Spain, coordinated the complex mission gaining valuable experience from operating with a potent mix of Allied aircraft and ships. Overall, this exercise had contributed to enhanced Allied interoperability and improved readiness.

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