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Aerospace Operational Command begins 'Eagle Eye 23-02' activation in the Mediterranean

In Castellon
June 20, 2023
  • This is an operational activity that integrates the Spanish Air Defence System to provide security in the Mediterranean area.

Second activation of the 'Eagle Eye' in 2023, this time on the coast of Castellón. This activation is carried out by the Operational Aerospace Command (MOA), under the operational control of the Operations Command, with units from the Army, the Navy and the Air and Space Forces.

Around 2,000 military personnel are taking part in this edition. On the part of the Air and Space Army, 6 Eurofighters (EF-2000) from Wing 11 (from the Morón Air Base, Seville) will be deployed at the Zaragoza Air Base, and the Northern Command and Control Group of the Air Surveillance and Control System Headquarters (JSVICA), together with the Air Operations Centre (AOC), will enter into service. The Spanish Army is participating with an Air Defence Unit (UDAA) and the Navy with the frigate F-104 "Méndez Núñez".

The Eurofighters and the airmen of the 11th Wing will devote their efforts to keeping the fighters on permanent alert to carry out police and air defence missions against unidentified aircraft attempting to penetrate our airspace. In addition, the aircraft will be integrated into the NFC-1 command and control system established by the Aerospace Operational Command to conduct activation, and will carry out these missions from Zaragoza Air Base. In addition, the 11th Wing's resources will carry out a variety of missions, as they will also be integrated in the 'SIRIO 23' exercise, which could be considered the Air and Space Army's maximum effort exercise.

The mission of the Northern Command and Control Group located at the Zaragoza Air Base is the surveillance, detection, identification and classification of air objects within the airspace of national sovereignty and responsibility, as well as the tactical control of the air police missions and, where appropriate, air defence, assigned to it. This mission is carried out continuously 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, our Command and Control centres are provided with the traces identified thanks to the 13 radars distributed throughout Spain, which are also operational 24/7 and, in this case, the closest to this activation will be Air Surveillance Squadron No. 5, located in Alcoy (Alicante).

The integrated unit of the Spanish Army in this activation is the "Maestrazgo" Air Defence Unit (UDAA). This UDAA is once again led by the II/71 Anti-aircraft Artillery Group (GAAA), and is made up of different units from the Anti-aircraft Artillery Command and the "Aragón I" Brigade. Its function will be to complement the capabilities of the Operational Aerospace Command (MOA), on the ground, through its three nuclei: Command and Control, Fire and Logistical Support; integrating itself into the Air Defence System (SDA).

The GAAA II/71, based in Madrid, has more than proven experience in this type of operation, as it has participated in a good number of them and led the previous activation. Its members have been deployed in Turkey and Latvia or supporting presence, surveillance and deterrence operations in national territory. On this occasion, different systems such as MISTRAL from the 71st Anti-aircraft Artillery Regiment (Madrid), 35/90 Skyguard and NASAMS from the 73rd Anti-aircraft Artillery Regiment (Cartagena) and HAWK from the 74th Anti-aircraft Artillery Regiment (San Roque) will join forces to ensure the success of the operation.

In addition, the MAAA Transmissions Unit will ensure the liaison and integration of the UDAA in the Command and Control System, while a company from the Infantry Regiment "Barcelona nº 63" will carry out the security tasks in the deployment.

The "Eagle Eye 23-02" activation is of great importance for the work of the Joint Force Core - the units assigned to exercise presence, surveillance and dissuasion within the framework established for the permanent mission of defending Spain - in our territory. On this occasion it is an activation of presence, surveillance and deterrence of our national airspace, for which reason the MOA is in charge of it. The Operational Aerospace Command permanently exercises the mission of presence, surveillance and deterrence in sovereign airspace; through the Air Defence System, it integrates all its forces into the command and control system and sets in motion its activations in different parts of Spain, when circumstances require it.

During this activation, air surveillance and defensive missions will be carried out in response to simulated air incursions and movements of unidentified aircraft. The aim of all this is to contribute to the permanent operation of surveillance and defence of national airspace, as well as to combine synergies, improve the integration and interoperability of these resources and maximise their operational performance. The UDAA will be distributed in various locations in the province of Castellón.

The Navy, with its frigate 'Méndez Núñez' (F-104), will contribute to national airspace surveillance and defence operations thanks to its AEGIS combat system and SPY-1D(V) multifunction radar, as well as other sensors and weapons. The ship has an information and weapons management system, enabling it to operate in triple threat environments. In this way, it can respond to threats from the air, from other ships or from submarines.

The SPY-1D(V) airborne radar is the heart of AEGIS and is one of the most capable, effective and reliable sensors in today's naval environment. It provides a surveillance function with a radius of 500 km and a height of 40 km. In addition, a vertical missile launching system with 48 cells for SM-II long-range anti-aircraft missiles and ESSM short-range missiles provides the necessary firepower for self-defence and defence of other units.

During this activation, a series of flights of external assets is planned, which will require defensive air missions, providing additional training and the possibility of evaluating the integration of land, naval and air assets in the command and control system and in the Spanish Air Defence System (SDA), in highly complex situations.

The 'Eagle Eye 23-02' aims to provide the operational structure of the Armed Forces with the capabilities of the Operational Aerospace Command, trained and in a position to carry out the permanent tasks of surveillance and air defence of the national territory, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.