Allied Air Command | German and Spanish Eurofighter Detachments – Side by Side in NATO Air Policing

RAMSTEIN, Germany – For the first time, Germany and Spain have collectively executed NATO’s reinforced air police. A joint German-Spanish flight of fast reaction warning interceptors flew sorties to protect Baltic airspace.

We have increased the size of the detachment by a third and almost doubled the output of the mission. For us, it’s a huge success – and it’s also a huge success for NATO

Under the concept of “plug-and-fight”, a small detachment of approx. 60 members of the Spanish Air Force integrated into the main 140-man reinforced German Air Police detachment at Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Together, the two detachments operated a fleet of nine Eurofighter aircraft. When ordered to launch from NATO’s Northern Combined Air Operations Center in Uedem, Germany, a Spanish and a German Eurofighter take off for a combined sortie, for example to identify and escort non-NATO aircraft securing NATO airspace over the Baltic countries.

During the "Plug-and-fight" deployment, German tank trucks refuelled Spanish Eurofighters on the ground. Photo by Michel Scheller / Bundeswehr.
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German and Spanish maintainers and technicians worked together to ensure jets were ready all the time. Photo by Guagliano / Bundeswehr.
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A  German A-400M conducts tactical air-to-air refuelling of a mixed Spanish-German twoship  during a training mission. Photo by  Bundeswehr.
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Diamond formation of two German and two Spanish Eurofighters conducting a fly-by at Ämari Air Base in Estonia. Photo by Michel Scheller / Bundeswehr.

“This combined deployment has resulted in a significant reduction in our footprint in terms of personnel and equipment,” said Lt. Col. Georg Hummel, commander of the German detachment. “Summarizing the result of this interoperability effort, we have increased detachment size by a third and nearly doubled mission output. For us, it’s a huge success – and it’s also a huge success for NATO,” he concluded.

The cooperation between the pilots went smoothly, after all, they fly the same basic type of aircraft. Pilot training has been standardized NATO-wide and several German pilots have actually completed part of their training on the Eurofighter in Spain.

“With these combined alert missions, we have achieved great success thanks to teamwork and thanks to the interoperability of our advanced weapons system,” said Major Miguel Ángel López García, commander of the Spanish detachment. “Shared maintenance has reduced the logistics footprint, deploying less personnel and equipment by each country for this type of operation, and twice the joint operability of Eurofighters has been generated compared to what would have been obtained if the two countries had worked separately,” he added. .

For the first time in this cooperation between Eurofighter user countries, the German Air Force supplied weapons, guided missiles and ammunition for the on-board gun of Spanish jet aircraft. They received fuel from German tankers, and German tractors moved them onto the apron. As needed, the Germans made available smaller spares for the Spanish jets; for larger hydraulic and mechanical components, a case-by-case review was carried out. Since the two countries operate different versions of the Eurofighter, replacement and exchange of electronic parts was not always possible. This meant that the Spanish detachment brought its own spare parts kit which, however, was far less comprehensive than that required for self-contained deployment.

German technicians performed most of the repairs on the Spanish Eurofighters; a Spanish supervisor supervised and certified their work; the translators helped to overcome the language barrier and avoid any misunderstandings that could have sensitive repercussions. Each nation carried out final pre-flight checks due to major differences between German and Spanish procedures. Back at base, the ground crews from each country again received their jet for post-flight inspection. German technicians carried out smaller repair work to ensure the jets were returned for the next mission with minimal delay.

After almost three weeks of cooperation and two weeks of combined flight missions, the technical and flight teams worked closely together. A combined squadron spirit has developed within the Rapid Reaction Warning Interceptor Detachment during missions and training flights, enhancing interoperability between Eurofighter user nations.

About Norma Wade

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