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 Deployments and operations

NATO's enhanced Air Policing over Bulgaria

eAP-Bulgaria mission patch

NATO takes its responsibility to ensure integrity, safety and security of its airspace very seriously. For member nations that do not have the necessary air capabilities, agreements exist to ensure a single standard of security across European NATO airspace.

Enhanced Air Policing is part of NATO’s Assurance Measures introduced in 2014, after Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The Alliance implemented these Assurance Measures with the goal to demonstrate the collective resolve of Allies, demonstrate the defensive nature of NATO and deter Russia from aggression or the threat of aggression against NATO Allies. They are flexible and scalable in response to fluctuations in the security situation facing the Alliance and send a strong, unambiguous message to the public.

As part of these Assurance Measures, NATO’s Air Policing mission is enhanced across two Implementation Areas. NATO members are authorized and encouraged to provide additional assets to the Alliance supplementing existing Baltic Air Policing capabilities in the northern Implementation Area and, in parallel, augmenting national Air Policing capabilities in the southern Implementation Area.

Since 2014, Baltic Air Policing has been continuously augmented as part of the Assurance Measures by a second detachment, based at Ämari, Estonia. In the South, Romania’s and Bulgaria’s national Air Policing capabilities are and have been temporarily augmented by detachments from various Allied Air Forces. Whilst these nations are fully capable of conducting Air Policing operations on their own, aircraft and pilots of augmenting detachments can also be scrambled to conduct intercepts.

In 2022, the Spanish Armed Forces will deploy fighter aircrafts in Bulgaria for the very first time.

CAOC Torrejón

The airspace over Europe sees an average of about 30,000 air movements per day, making it one of the busiest airspaces in the world. Any aircraft flying inside or approaching European NATO airspace that are unidentified, either through loss or intentional omission of communication with Air Traffic Control creates an unsafe environment, which could lead to an air incident.

NATO ensures the integrity, safety and security of its airspace by maintaining a 24/7/365 Air Policing mission, overseen by Allied Air Command.

The Combined Air Operations Centre Torrejón is located at Torrejón Air Force Base, northeast of Madrid, Spain. Its primary mission is to plan, direct, coordinate, monitor, analyse and report on the operations of Air Policing means assigned to it in peace time. The unit’s area of responsibility comprises European NATO airspace south of the Alps. Hence Combined Air Operations Centre Torrejón is responsible for some of NATO’s special Air Policing arrangements, such as Air Policing over Romania and Bulgaria, Air Policing over Slovenia and Air Policing over Montenegro.

Eurofighter belonging to Wing 14


The enhanced Air-Policing mission (eAP) is part of the Alliance's collective effort in monitoring the airspace of its members, particularly those in the Southern Implementation Area like Romania, Bulgaria or Albania. The allied deployment in South Eastern Europe is developed under NATO's mandate within the framework of allied collective defence.

Allied radars pick up an aircraft of interest out of the 30,000 air movements daily inside the European airspace. If the corresponding aircraft is not using its transponder or is not in radio contact with civilian air traffic control or has not filed a flight plan, the track is reported to one of NATO’s two Combined Air Operations Centres. The Commander of the respective Combined Air Operations Centre, CAOC Torrejón in this case, decides whether or not to launch Quick Reaction Alert Interceptor aircraft to intercept and visually identify the Aircraft.

A Spanish Eurofighter ready for take off

The Spanish Armed Forces are a regular contributor to NATO's Air Policing. In addition to patrolling national airspace under NATO's Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Torrejón; the Spanish Air Force has also carried out seven deployments leading and enhancing NATO's Air Policing mission in the Baltic States.

Spain contributes to eAP-Bulgaria with four fighter aircrafts. Besides the air assets, the Spanish Air Force deploys roughly 130 airmen within the contingent, which makes all the maintenance, logistic, surveillance and control tasks of the Enhanced Air Policing, eAP Block 58 possible.

The Spanish Air Force has deployed four Eurofighter 'Typhoon' aircrafts belonging to the 14th Wing, operating from 'Strela' Air Tactic Detachment at Graf Ignatievo AFB, in Bulgaria, until the end of March 2022.


  • March 31st. Spanish aircrfat end mission in Bulgaria. 
  • February 21st. The minister for Defence along with ESP CHOD visit DAT 'Strela'. 
  • February 17th. CAOC Torrejón certifiies DAT Strela's  full operational capability (FOC). 
  • February 13th. The TOA ceremony is hosted at Graf Ignatievo AFB in Bulgaria.
  • February 11th. Spanish Eurofighters 'Typhoon', belonging to the 14th Wing, arrive in Bulgaria. 


  • A Spanish Eurofighter ready to take-off at Graf Ignatievo AFB

    Detachment 'Strela' successfully completes the enhanced Air Policing mission in Bulgaria

    Detachment 'Strela' successfully completes the enhanced Air Policing mission in Bulgaria


    Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria

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  • Attendees to the certification ceremony

    Detachment ‘Strela’ ready to provide security in Bulgarian airspace

    Detachment ‘Strela’ ready to provide security in Bulgarian airspace


    Graf Ignatievo AFB, Bulgaria

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