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Combined Air Operations Centre

CAOC TJ Main Entry

The NATO Combined Air Operations Centre in Torrejón de Ardoz (CAOC TJ) is an international unit of the NATO Command Structure (NCS) which, under the command of a Lieutenant General of the Spanish Air Force, has the mission of planning, directing, coordinating, supervising, analysing and reporting on the air defence operations of the means assigned in peace, crisis and conflict scenarios, following the directives of the NATO air component in its area of responsibility.

A second, and also essential, mission of the CAOC is to have the capacity to activate an air component command structure for crisis and conflict management in any other location far from our national territory.


At the 2010 Lisbon summit, the Heads of State and Heads of Government of the Atlantic Alliance agreed on the implementation of the new NATO´s strategic concept, which will serve as the organization roadmap for the following ten years. This new concept will become actual fact during the Defence Ministers meeting of June 2011, thanks to the NATO Secretary General´s proposal for a new command structure and geographic distribution of NATO´S headquarters.

Once changes are implemented, NATO will only have two Operation Centres, one of them located in the German town of Uedem, responsible for the northern flank, and the other one, CAOC TJ, in Torrejón, responsible for the southern flank. Both of them are under the command of the sole Air Command Headquarters located in Ramstein (Germany).

Lieutenant General Fernando de la Cruz Caravaca

Personal data:

Lieutenant General Fernando De La Cruz Caravaca is the Commander of NATO’s Combined Air Operation Centre at Torrejón Air Base, Spain.

He was born in Madrid on August 1st 1959, married, two children.


Records of Service:

Jul 1983 - Dec 1993: 14th Wing (Albacete)141 Squadron (Lieutenant/Captain) – Fighter Pilot (Mirage F-1) - Instructor & Test Pilot - SQN Commander

Dec 1993 - Apr 1998: Air Central Command (Madrid) Operations Section (Major) Staff Officer Training & Exercise Planner

Aug 1995 - Feb 1996: Air South (Naples, Italy) Deny Flight Cell (Major) Staff Officer  Direct Assessment for COMAIRSOUTH In “Deny Flight” & “Deliberate Force” Operations

Apr 1998 - Jul 2000: 12th Wing  (Torrejón) 122 Squadron (Major) Squadron Commander (F18) Head 12th Wing Staff

Jul 2000 - Aug 2001: 11th Wing (Moron) 11 Group (Lieutenant Colonel) Flying Group Commander (F-18)

Aug 2001 - Aug 2004:  Joint Staff (Madrid) Cabinet of Chief of Defence Spain (Lieutenant Colonel) Personal Advisor for Chief of Defence Spain

Aug 2004 - Aug 2008: Nato Eurofighter & Tornado Management Agency (Munich, Germany) Head Of Executive Secretariat (A-5) Personal Advisor For General Manager

Aug 2008 - Feb 2009: Air Staff (Madrid) Plans Division (Lieutenant Colonel) Staff Officer Spanish Representative for Nato Weapons Groups

Feb 2009 - Jul 2009 ISAF/HERAT (Afganistan) Forward Support Base (Lieutenant Colonel) Deputy FSB Commander

Jul 2009 - Jul 2012 15th Wing (Zaragoza) 15th Wing (Colonel) Wing Commander

Jul 2012 - May 2013 Air Staff (Madrid) Operations Division (Colonel) Chief Air Operations Section

May 2013 - Nov 2013 ISAF / HERAT (Afganistan) Forward Support Base (ColonelCOL) FSB Commander

Nov 2013 - Apr 2017 Air Staff (Madrid) Operations Division (Brigadier General) Chief Operations Division

April 2017 - Jun 2020 Canary Island Air Command (Gran Canaria) Air Command (Major General) Commander In Chief Canary Island Air Command

Jun 2020 - Up to date Commander Combined Air Operations Centre Torrejón (Lieutenant General)



•     NATO Defence College 25 Aug 2002 to 07 Feb 2003

•     National Defence War College 12 Sep 2016 to 30 Nov 2016

•     Staff College 01 SEP 1992 to 13 Dec 1993

•     High International Studies, Strategic & Geopolitical 01 Feb -01 Jul 1994

•    NATO Electronic Warfare OPS Staff Officers (USA) 29 Mar - 15 Aug 1989



Academic Qualifications:

Master Degree in Security And Defence (Complutense University) (Nov 1996 - Apr 1998)



English: SLP 4344

French: PLS 3333


Aditional information: 

•     Participating in planning and executing different national and international exercises (Dragon Hammer, TRAMONTANA, Trial Mace, NAVIPAR, Linked Seas, DAPEX, Trident Jaguar & Trident Junture)

•     Participating and briefing numerous Board of Directors of a NATO Agency

•     Participating in Steering Committees with NATO Nations representatives

•     Participating as Squadron Commander in Flying Operations over Kosovo (Joint Forge/Joint Guardian)

•     As FSB Commander in Herat (Afghanistan) participate in ISAF planning for ”Resolute Support Mission” and future definition of Afghan airspace and airport requirements

•     Responsible for military management of National airspace and coordinator with civilian exploitation of Spanish and European airspace (participation in EUROCONTROL and other multinational meetings on behalf of Spanish National Military Authority, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft requirements, for Single European Sky Air traffic management SESAR implementation)

•     Responsible of Force Protection training and exercises within the Air Force

•     Responsible of Spanish Joint Terminal Attack Controller Training Program (Spanish Joint Terminal Attack Controller Program Manager) and management of Air Force assets in support of other services (Army and Navy)

•     Coordinator of Spanish Air Force participation in military operations (together with Joint Operational Command and Combat Command) (Ongoing operations: Resolute Support Mission Herat, Afghanistan, Active Endeavor, Atalanta, Djibouti, Central African Republic, Mali and Baltic Air Policing)

•     Coordinator of Spanish Air Force requirements for operational intelligence.

•     Spanish representation in NATO Air Operations Working Group

•     Responsible for Air doctrine implementation in Spanish Air Force units

•     Participation in Operational Planning process (Joint and specific)

•     Control and Coordination of Flying Safety in Spanish Air Force

•     NATO Secret Security Clearance

•     Knowledge of standard automated data processing, including Integrated Command and Control ICC and Crisis Response Operations in NATO Operating System CRONOS

CAOC Operations zone

With the aforementioned reduction of NATO air control centres, the CAOC TJ had to integrate the capabilities of the five control centres that the Alliance had in the South, prior to the 2010 Lisbon Summit.  The airspace of responsibility was thus expanded in order to cover the space comprised from the Azores Islands to Romania, and from the Canary Islands to Turkey.

This implies that, under the CAOC TJ responsibility area, are included Portugal, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro, Spain and the southern half of France. This area covers around 6.500 kilometers from east to west, the Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea and part of the Atlantic Ocean.

The responsibility area is bounded to the south and to the east with other NATO friend and allied countries, as well as with some growing instability areas.

CAOC TJ emblem reflects this geographical dimension, by representing the Pillars of Hercules and the Bosporus as towers, both of them with doors and connected by the air defence wall in the Mediterranean, which is responsibility of CAOC TJ.


CAOC Torrejón has been accomplishing its mission since the beginning of 2013, evolving by means of an adaptation scheme from the former CAOC 8 to the new Alliance structure. The Center gradually assumed air defence of the different countries within its area of responsibility. For this reason, all the equipment, command and control systems have been modernised, achieving full operational capacity in October 2014, being thus the first unit of the new structure to reach such full operability.

CAOC Group photo

185 people from 19 countries are working at the CAOC Torrejón. In addition, the CAOC TJ has the support of a detachment from the NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCIA), together with a number of Spanish national support units (NSE) and personnel from other countries working at the CAOC, being thus about 300 the total number of personnel assigned to the CAOC. Spain, as the host nation, covers a considerable part of the positions in these bodies.

The allied countries providing personnel to this centre: Albania, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Turkey, United States, and Spain, as a host nation.

This list of countries is a sample of the multinational environment in which the center develops its mission to face the air threat, which due to its speed characteristics, requires perfect coordination and teamwork between the countries represented in the CAOC and the means available to the Alliance.

CAOC Structure

The Centre is structured in two main sections: one is deployable on the occasion of a crisis and the other one is static and focused on the NATO territory air defence.


The first section includes the Instruction, Intelligence, Plans and Operations Divisions. This section can adapt to the nature and entity of the operation in a flexible manner. The static part is responsible for achieving the main objective of Air Defense of the countries of the Alliance, according to the NATO Integrated Air Defense and Missile System (NATINAMDS).