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NATO allies agree to partner on acquiring maritime munitions
June 27, 2019
By Allen Cone
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The USS Donald Cook detected, tracked and successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile as part of Formidable Shield 17, a three week-long NATO military exercise in October 2017. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy Europe-Africa

June 27 (UPI) -- Eight countries, including seven NATO allies and one partner nation, on Thursday reached a memorandum of understanding on multinational cooperation for maritime battle decisive munitions.

The defense ministers of Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Finland signed the agreement at a meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Finland is a partner nation.

NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said at the signing ceremony that the memorandum was "a significant first step towards establishing European stockpiles of high quality maritime munitions. In time, this initiative will enhance our forces' interoperability, our ability to share munitions, and our capacity work together in an effective and efficient way."

As part of the agreement, the eight nations plan to cooperate in acquiring maritime munitions in an effort to achieve economies of scale with associated lower unit prices. In addition, they also will discuss other cooperation aspects in munitions, including common warehousing.

Munitions include surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles, torpedoes and gun shells.

Last July, the seven NATO allies signed a letter of intent to help standardize naval weapons by combining munitions purchases to achieve economies of scale.

And also during the summit last year, 16 NATO members and three partner nations -- Austria, Finland and Macedonia -- signed a memorandum of understanding on multinational cooperation for land battle decisive munitions.

In January, Denmark, France and the Netherlands become the first nations to receive shipments of new anti-tank weapons under the NATO multinational sharing project.

Land munitions, including mortars, artillery shells, rockets and missiles, are produced in the United States.

"This initiative seeks to address a problem that NATO first encountered during the Libya Operation: when some allies ran out of their stockpiles of munitions, they found it incredibly difficult to use those of other air forces," NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said last August in a NATO release. "We realized that we needed a new, flexible approach to the provision of air-to-ground precision-guided munitions."

 

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NATO Air Base to Install Saab Remote Air Traffic Management System
29 June 2019
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Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions has received an order to install a digital tower at NATO NAEW&CF E3A Component in Geilenkirchen, Germany which provides remote air traffic control.

NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen will use the digital tower for live operations during the refurbishment of the current control tower. This is the first order for an operational digital air traffic control tower at a military air base. Delivery will take place in 2020.

The digital air traffic control tower was introduced during 2015 in Sweden when Ornskoldsvik Airport became the first in the world with remote air traffic control which was followed by Sundsvall Timra Airport in December 2017. Starting in 2019, air traffic control at both Linkoping Saab Airport and Scandinavian Mountains Airport in Salen will be conducted remotely from Sundsvall.

Saab has developed the second generation of digital air traffic control towers, which will be installed at Geilenkirchen.
“NATO has stringent requirements on availability and security. With this equipment, NATO will possess new capabilities, enabled by a digital air traffic control solution,” says Per Ahl, head of Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions.

Saab Digital Air Traffic Solutions can manage the entire process from planning and implementation to the administration of air traffic control services.
 

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Ukraine and NATO change plan of Sea Breeze military exercises because of Russia

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 11:00:55 AM



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The plan of joint Sea Breeze—2019 exercises with participation of Ukraine, the USA, and NATO countries was changed due to Russia's actions in the Black Sea, reads the message of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

The commander of the Ukrainian Navy Ihor Voronchenko said that the area of the maneuvers was changed due to the "attempts of Northern neighbor to confuse us with the sudden closure of the navigation area." "We took this as an additional challenge and are ready to counteract adequately," the commander said.

National Defense Management Center of Russia said that the Russian Black Sea fleet monitors the actions of NATO ships during the exercises "to respond to possible emergencies," reports RIA Novosti news agency.

Also, the Russian military deployed Bal and Bastion coastal missile systems during its exercises in the Crimea and the Caucasus coast, reports Interfax. "The personnel of the Bastion and Bal systems conducts drills on applying conditional missile strikes on sea targets in the designated areas when deploying from the march," reads the message of the Russian fleet.

International exercises Sea Breeze-2019 are held from 1 to 12 July at sea and on land, in the air and underwater. Exercises are attended by 19 countries and involve 32 ships, 24 aircraft, and more than 900 personnel. The US Navy destroyer Carney also arrived in the area of Black Sea to participate in the exercises.

 

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NATO Secretary General warns Russia of Alliance's 'defensive measures'
July 6, 2019


Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia that the Alliance would take defensive measures if Russia does not return to compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

He noted that "there are no signs of Moscow's desire to fulfill the terms of the missile deal so far, although "time is running out."

"The allies call on Russia again to fully and transparently comply with the Treaty," said Stoltenberg at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, reports Interfax news agency.

Earlier, on June 26, NATO countries agreed on political and military measures in case of termination of the INF Treaty.

 

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Hungarian Foreign Minister: US urges Hungary to let Ukraine into NATO

Sunday, July 7, 2019
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The Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Péter Szijjártó said in an interview with Radio Liberty that the United States during negotiations with Hungary repeatedly raised the issue of Budapest's blocking Ukraine's entry to the North Atlantic Alliance.

"For them [the US], it is a matter of geopolitics. The US sees it as a geopolitical issue from overseas. However, we're Ukraine's neighbors! One hundred fifty thousand Hungarians are living here [in Ukraine]. Therefore, it is not surprising that we look at all this situation from a different angle and generally see it differently," said Szijjártó.

According to him, the fact that Trump’s representatives continue to raise this issue should not be described as pressure, but "we cannot exclude a different view of the problem." He also added that unlike ex-President Obama's staff, which was much harsher, the current US diplomats are more loyal.

Also, Szijjártó stressed that Hungary is ready to lift the veto when its requirements are met.

"Immediately after the amendments are applied to these two laws [Ukrainian language and education laws], we will be happy to cancel this veto," the Foreign Minister said.

Earlier, Hungary criticized the Ukrainian law on language and education and asked to amend it and to support the rights of the national minorities living in Ukraine.

 

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US Multi-Billion Dollar European Missile Shield Full of Holes – Reports
07.07.2019

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Earlier, NATO military officials said they were examining the possibility of upgrading the existing missile defence shield assets in Eastern Europe to intercept Russian ballistic and cruise missiles, despite previous assurances that these installations were aimed at 'rogue states' such as North Korea and Iran.

The US' Aegis Ashore missile defence network in Eastern Europe is only partially operational thanks to repeated delays, cancellations and failures of interceptor missile testing and problems with contractors in Poland, a new report by the Government Accountability Office has concluded.

According to the GAO, in 2018, only seven of eleven planned flight tests were carried out. "Moreover," the report said, "construction contractor performance issues will result in the Aegis Ashore Missile Defence System Complex – Poland not being delivered until at least 18 months after the planned December 2018 date."

In the case of the Poland site, the report said officials have faced repeated problems with construction contractors despite multiple efforts to fix the issues, including the deployment of key personnel to the site, adding a second shift and withholding some award fees to the contractors due to the delays.

"Despite these efforts, [the Missile Defence Agency] has found the contractor's performance is still particularly poor in the areas of construction management, identification, procurement, timely delivery of important materials, and timely hiring of staff with appropriate skills," the report noted.

Moreover, the report said, the agency has had to negotiate with the Polish government to allow the Aegis site's powerful radar systems to take over a range of radio frequencies previously reserved for commercial use.

In Romania, the Missile Defence Agency was said to still be tinkering with various on the Aegis Ashore site, including malfunctioning cooling systems, three years after the site was declared operational.

View attachment 9201

On Friday, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg met with Russian officials and assured them that the Eastern European missile defence system was "directed against threats from outside the Euro-Atlantic area" and "not…against Russia." However, the same day, several current and former US and NATO officials told the New York Times that the US Missile Defence Agency had already carried out preliminary studies on how to upgrade the Aegis Ashore systems to intercept modern Russian ballistic and cruise missiles amid tensions over the fate of the INF.

Washington moved to scrap the INF Treaty in February, with the arms agreement, signed by the Soviet Union and the United Sates in 1987, banning the development, deployment and testing of ground-based missiles in the 500-5,500 km range, and serving as a keystone to European security for over 30 years. Moscow announced that it would walk away from the treaty if the US doesn't reverse course by next month.

 

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NATO announces change in Baltic air policing duties
Sept. 6, 2019
By Ed Adamczyk

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A Gripen fighter plane of the Czech air Force is prepped for flight. The Czech Republic, Belgium and Denmark will take over NATO air-policing duties over the Baltic region next week. Photo courtesy of Czech air force


Sept. 6 (UPI) -- NATO announced this week air policing over the Baltic Sea will be administered by fighter planes of Belgium, the Czech Republic and Denmark.

Beginning this month, NATO said the three detachments will replace those of Hungary, Britain and Spain, which have patrolled the region since May. A changeover ceremony will take place next week at their airfield at Siauliai, Lithuania.

The Belgian and Danish detachment of four U.S.-built F-16 planes will be based at Siauliai. The four Czech planes are Swedish-made Gripen aircraft and will be based in Amari, Estonia. Belgium will be regarded as the deployment leader.

The Baltic mission began in 2004 after Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia joined NATO. Members of the alliance have taken turns to safeguard airspace over the three countries, which lack fighter aircraft of their own. The current rotation has been deployed since April.

"This is a clear example of alliance solidarity in action," NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in a press release. ‎"In recent years, we have seen a considerable increase in Russian military air activity along the borders of NATO allies in the region. NATO aircraft routinely intercept Russian military aircraft that fly close to our borders, which are not following international air safety norms."

 
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NATO Baltic Air Policing mission
Alan Warnes, Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania -
06 September 2019

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A Hungarian Air Force JAS 39C Gripen, armed with two AIM-120C5 AMRAAMs and two AIM-9L Sidewinders, taxies to its alert barn after a scramble. Source: Alan Warnes

Hungarian Air Force (HuAF) Saab JAS 39C Gripens returned home on 2 September following a four-month deployment to Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania, during which airmen found the Litening targeting pod and new data links to be especially valuable.

As part of NATO's Baltic Air Policing commitment, four Gripens armed with two Air Intercept Missile (AIM)-120C5 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) and two shorter-range AIM-9L Sidewinder AAMs stood on a persistent Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) to defend the airspace of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. One of each pair standing the alert was also equipped with a Litening III laser designator pod.

As the lead nation, the HuAF remained on full-time QRA throughout its mission, whereas the other two detachments - comprising Spanish Air Force EF-18M Hornets co-located at Šiauliai, and UK Royal Air Force Typhoons at Ämari, Estonia - worked in tandem, taking one week off (cold) and one week on (hot).

According to the detachment commander, Brigadier General Csaba Ugrik, it was a busy deployment. "We flew over 400 sorties, including 43 Alpha scrambles that saw us intercept over 50 Russian military aircraft."

There was a variety of types intercepted, including Sukhoi Su-24M/MRs, Su-27Ps, Su-30SMs, Su-34s, and Su-35s armed with new beyond visual range AA-12 Adder AAMs; as well as transports and high-value assets such as Antonov An-12, An-24, An-26 aircraft; Beriev A-50; Ilyushin Il-18 Coot Il-20/Il-22 Coot A/Bs, navy Il-38 May, and Il-76; and Tupolev Tu-134, Tu-142, Tu-154, and Tu-214R aircraft, according to the HuAF.

 

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US Senate approves North Macedonia to NATO
22 Oct 2019

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North Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, left, walks away after talking with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, right, at the U.S. State Department in Washington on April 4, 2019. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)


WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Senate approved the accession of North Macedonia to NATO in a 91-2 vote Tuesday, meaning the small Balkan nation is a step closer to becoming NATO’s 30th member.

The decision marked a victory for Skopje after the European Union decided not to initiate membership talks with the government earlier in the week. It also sends a broader message of support to Europe and deterrence in the region, said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho.

“This lays out a template to all Europeans, that they’re welcome, that the door is open, that we want them to join NATO,” Risch told reporters Tuesday. “The Russians hate this sort of thing, they hate an increase in the size of NATO, but we want the Europeans to be encouraged.”

The “no” votes came from Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee, two libertarian-leaning Republicans. Several of the Democrats running for president were absent for the vote.

NATO member states and North Macedonia signed an agreement clearing the way for membership after the country officially changed its name from “Macedonia” in February. Greece had blocked its neighbor’s NATO membership since 2008, saying use of “Macedonia” implied territorial claims on the northern Greek province of the same name and usurped ancient Greek heritage.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Oct. 4 at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in London that “NATO’s door remains open.”

When North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev hosted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Oct. 4, Zaev said his country plans to make its defense budget 2 percent of its gross domestic product by 2024, if not sooner. NATO has set a goal for its members to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

North Macedonia also contributed troops to fight alongside U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pompeo at the time cautioned the government to be vigilant against malign influences from beyond its borders. “The hearts and minds of North Macedonia citizens should guide your country forward, not Russian bots and trolls on social media,” Pompeo said.

Twenty-two countries have ratified the NATO accession protocol for North Macedonia. The country can join once the remaining seven also do so.

For its part, Montenegro became the 29th member of NATO two years ago, and Georgia is expected to become a member of NATO, though no timeline’s been set.
 

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Spain prepares to take lead for Baltic Air Policing mission
28 April 2020

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Spanish Hornet fighters are to lead the next rotation of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, alongside British Typhoons and French Mirage 2000s. Source: Jane’s/Gareth Jennings

Spain is to take over responsibility for leading NATO's Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission, with four Boeing EF-18M Hornet fighters recently arriving at Šiauliai Airbase in Lithuania.

From 1 May the Spanish fighters of Wing (Ala) 15, based at Zaragoza, will be supported by UK Eurofighter Typhoons also operating out of Šiauliai Airbase, and by French Dassault Mirage 2000s flying from Ämari Airbase in Estonia.

These three nations will conduct air policing of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian airspace through to the end of August, at which time they will be relieved by other NATO members.

The NATO BAP mission is part of a wider enhanced air policing mission that includes the recently constituted southern air policing mission based in Romania, as well as similar missions that cover Albania, Belgium, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Slovenia.

Controlled by Headquarters Air Command (HQ AIRCOM), located in Ramstein, Germany, the enhanced air policing 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.

While interceptions between Russian and Western warplanes effectively came to an end with the end of the Cold War in 1991, they had been gradually rising since 2007 when Russian president Vladimir Putin reconstituted long-range bomber patrols in one of the first signs that relations were not quite as cordial as they had been.

When Russia invaded the Ukrainian province of Crimea in early 2014, one of the West's first responses was to deploy additional US Air Force Boeing F-15C Eagle fighter jets to Lithuania to bolster the NATO air policing mission there.
 

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Spain, France, UK take up Baltic air-policing mission
29 Apr. 2020

Spain, France and the United Kingdom will take up NATO's Baltic Air Policing mission starting in May, guarding the skies over the Baltic region for the next four months.
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The three NATO Allies are replacing air force detachments from Belgium and Poland which have protected the airspace of NATO’s three Baltic Allies Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since January. The Spanish and British air force contingents will operate out of Siauliai airbase in Lithuania, while the French air force will fly from Amari in Estonia. Spain is the lead nation for the mission.

“We thank Spain, France and the UK for taking over NATO’s Baltic-air policing mission”, said NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu. “This 24/7 mission demonstrates that our commitment to the security of our Allies is rock-solid and that our vital work goes on despite the coronavirus pandemic,” she stressed.

NATO’s Baltic Air Policing deployment is a defensive mission that sees allies sending planes to patrol the airspace of the three Baltic States, who do not have fighter jets of their own. The Air Policing programme keeps fighter jets on alert 24/7 and ready to scramble in case of suspicious air activity close to the Alliance’s borders.

The mission which has been running since 2004 took on greater prominence following Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. NATO aircraft routinely intercept Russian military aircraft near the Baltic States which frequently fail to adhere to international air safety norms. In 2019, Allied jets attached to NATO’s Baltic air-policing mission scrambled around 200 times to safeguard allied airspace.
 

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RAMSTEIN, Germany - NATO aircraft have been busy over the past two days intercepting Russian aircraft flying close to NATO airspace.
Apr 30 2020

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Russian Tu-160 long range bombers

On 28 April Polish fighters were scrambled under NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission from Estonia to identify two Russian Tu-160 long range bombers, escorted by several fighters and supported by an Airborne Early Warning aircraft. The formation was later intercepted again by fighters of the Royal Danish Air Force.

On the same day a Russian Airborne Early Warning aircraft as well as two Russian Tu-22 long range bombers with fighter escorts approached NATO airspace off the coast of Norway and were intercepted by Norwegian fighter jets.
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Norwegian F-35 fighter

On 29 April Norwegian fighters were scrambled twice more against two Russian Maritime Patrol aircraft, approaching NATO airspace close to Norway. After the first intercept by Norwegian F-16 aircraft, the Royal Air Force launched their Quick Reaction Alert Typhoon fighter aircraft from RAF Lossiemouth to meet and escort the Russian planes as they tracked south towards the North Sea. They operated around the North Sea and turned north where Norwegian F-35 fighters met them and escorted them out of NATO’s area of interest.

All intercepts were conducted in a professional manner, demonstrating that NATO fighters across the Alliance remain ready and poised to protect Allied skies 24/7.
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A Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter aircraft was supported by an RAF Voyager tanker aircraft during the mission on 29 April 2020. Photo Crown Copyright.
 

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Air Forces Monthly, Issue 402, Sept 2021, Page 23
 
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