Safe skies: NATO Air Policing – Bulgaria and Romania

To enhance Air Policing along #NATO’s Eastern borders, Allies provide assets that supplement existing Air Policing capabilities in #Bulgaria & #Romania

Across Europe, NATO fighter jets are on duty around the clock, ready to scramble in case of suspicious or unannounced flights near the airspace of our Allies. NATO calls this activity Air Policing, which has been an essential part of NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence for 60 years (since 1961).

Explore this page to learn more about NATO’s five special air policing arrangements to ensure the integrity of NATO’s airspace and protect our almost one billion citizens.

From Iceland in the north to the Black Sea on NATO’s south-eastern border, Allied air forces keep NATO airspace safe 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Watch the following videos to learn more about NATO’s air policing missions!

Air traffic and interceptions

  • 35,000 – approximate number of daily air movements inside European airspace (2021)
  • 400 – approximate number of air intercept missions  per year (2020)
  • 350 – approximate number of times NATO jets took to the skies in 2020 to intercept Russian military aircraft (almost 90% of air intercept missions)

NATO Air Policing capabilities

  • 40 – approximate number of radar surveillance stations on duty 24/7 across Europe
  • 60 – approximate number of NATO quick-response jets on duty 24/7 across Europe
  • 21 – Allies that contribute fighter jets to NATO Air Policing missions
  • 30 – Allies that contribute fighters, air command and control centres, and air surveillance stations to NATO Air Policing missions
  • 2 – number of Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) – one in Uedem, Germany responsible for air policing north of the Alps, and one in Torrejón, Spain responsible for the south

Air policing coverage

  • 5 – number of special NATO Air Policing arrangements (see videos above)
  • 13 – countries covered by special NATO Air Policing arrangements*
  • 30 – countries covered by NATO and NORAD air policing. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a bilateral arrangement between Canada and the United States, which covers the two North American NATO Allies
  • 786,000 km2 – approximate land area covered by special NATO air policing arrangements*
  • 69.8 million – approximate number of people protected by special NATO air policing arrangements*
  • 26.5 million km2 – approximate land area covered by NATO + NORAD air policing
  • almost 1 billion – people protected by NATO and NORAD air policing


  • 24/7/365 – period when NATO Air Policing missions are on alert
  • less than 15 minutes – approximate time it takes for a Quick Reaction Alert pilot to get into the air after a launch alarm sounds
  • 1 year training + 150 flight hours – approximate time it takes to become a fighter pilot (varies by country)
  • 60 – number of years that NATO has been conducting Air Policing missions (1961-2021)



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