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Periodista del EMAD

Official visit of the Commander of the Combined Air Operations Centre-Torrejón to Romania

Bucharest and Constanta
October 20, 2023
  • Lieutenant General Juan Pablo Sánchez de Lara visits the NATO air defence command and control facility in Romania.

The Commander of the Torrejón Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC TJ), Lieutenant General Juan Pablo Sánchez de Lara, made his first official visit to Romania between 16 and 19 October, in the framework of his responsibilities as head of the NATO unit responsible for command and control in the air defence of the southern flank of Europe.

The Romanian Air Force (RoAF), host of this working visit, has organised the activities carried out, providing support at all times so that this trip to Romanian soil has been a success, strengthening the already excellent relations between the two entities.

On Tuesday 17 October, Lieutenant General Sánchez de Lara had the opportunity to learn first-hand about the current situation and the future of the RoAF when he met Lieutenant General Viorel Pană, Chief of Staff of the RoAF. During the briefing, the milestones achieved and the challenges that the Romanian Air Force is facing were described.

Afterwards, there was the opportunity to see first-hand the work of the Romanian Air Component Command at its facilities in the capital itself, and then to visit the air traffic controllers who carry out their mission at the Control Reporting Centre Crystal, linked directly with their colleagues in the CAOC TJ for the air defence mission.

The following day, Wednesday 18, it was the turn to visit the detachments that report directly to the CAOC TJ Commander, which are located in the easternmost part of the country, near the important city of Constanta and just a few kilometres from the Black Sea. In particular, there was the opportunity to see at first hand the good work of the French forces in Capu Midia and their deployment of the MAMBA anti-aircraft system, as well as the work of the Tigru detachment, which the Air and Space Army has sent to the town of Schitu under the auspices of the MOPS. The Spanish personnel stationed there, now in their third rotation, are responsible for providing additional radar coverage in an area very close to the border with Ukraine and also the Black Sea.

The intense day concluded at Feteşti Air Base, home to the RoAf's 53rd Fighter Squadron (equipped with F-16s), where several NATO countries, including Spain, carry out Enhanced Air Policing (eAP), thus increasing the Alliance's response capacity on Romanian territory. On this occasion, it is the French Air and Space Army that is carrying out this mission with its Dassault Rafale.

Romania, because of its proximity to Ukraine and the Black Sea, which is currently the focus of tensions following the war of aggression launched by Russia, is a country of great strategic value in southeastern Europe, which is why NATO's military presence in the area has been reinforced. The CAOC TJ makes a decisive contribution to the security and responsiveness to any attack on the sovereignty and airspace of the countries located in the south of the continent.


The main mission of the Torrejón CAOC, under the direct command of a Lieutenant General of the Spanish Air and Space Army, is to plan, direct, coordinate, supervise, analyse and report on air defence operations in Southern Europe, following the directives of the NATO Air Component Command on which it depends and with the resources assigned to NATO by the nations in peacetime.

The Spanish Armed Forces make an important contribution to the mission carried out by this centre. Some 120 military personnel serve in the CAOC itself as well as in the National Support Element (NSE) and the NATO Communications and Information Agency Unit (NCIA).