Brunssum, The Netherlands – On 20 Oct 2022, Allied aircraft including F/A-18s from the USS George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group, currently in the Mediterranean, conducted long-range missions over Slovakia and other Eastern flank Allies to protect NATO territory.
For the third time this year, the Neptune series of vigilance activities demonstrates NATO’s ability to integrate the high-end maritime strike capabilities of a U.S. Carrier Strike Group with Allied military activities. Working together with German and French aircraft, the jets flew more than a thousand miles over Europe thanks to aerial refuelling coordinated by NATO Allied Air Command.
In addition to providing a deterrent effect, the sorties enabled Air-Land Integration (ALI) training opportunities with Allied forces including the NATO Air and Missile Defence (AMD) Task Force in Sliač, Slovakia.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, NATO is providing an enhanced Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (IAMDS) along the Alliance’s eastern flank. Known as the Air Shielding mission, it is purely defensive in nature, and a key component of the Alliance’s enhanced deterrence and defence posture agreed at the 2022 NATO Summit, in Madrid.
The Air Shielding mission comes in addition to other NATO enhanced vigilance activities, including enhanced Air Policing (eAP), and air and missile defence elements deployed in support of the four existing and four new multinational battlegroups. These include a U.S. Avenger system and a German-Dutch Patriot unit in Slovakia, a French MAMBA system in Romania, and the Spanish NASAMS (Norwegian Advanced Surface to Air Missile System) in Latvia. NATO Allies have deployed these systems to protect and shield nations on the Alliance’s Eastern Flank against possible air and missile threats.
The enhanced vigilance of these powerful military capabilities means that NATO is able to Deter and Defend against aggression on its Eastern Flank, ensuring that every inch of Alliance territory is protected.