NATO holds an ADEX (Air Defense Exercise) in the Black Sea region, where tension with Russia has increased following the recent close encounters between Russian fighters and NATO warships.
On Jul. 2, 2021, NATO Air and Maritime forces conducted an ADEX in the Black Sea area, “to improve Alliance cooperation, practise air-maritime communications and build stronger relationships between Allies.”
Several fighters assets from the Greek, Romanian and Turkish air forces, a NATO AWACS, a Romanian C-27 transport aircraft, a Turkish Military Patrol Aircraft and three Allied frigates from the Standing Naval Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), Italian Navy flagship Fasan, the Romanian Navy Regina Maria and the Turkish Navy Barbaros took part in the ADEX. SNMG 2 forces are transiting across the Black Sea and will take part in Exercise Sea Breeze 2021 after the ADEX. The German and British Eurofighters deployed to Mihail Kogalniceanu, Constanta, for NATO Enhanced Air Policing were initially scheduled to take part in the training but their sorties were cancelled because of bad weather.
The maritime game plan clearly replicated the scenario that saw Russian warplanes fly close to a British destroyer and simulate multiple attacks on a Dutch frigate. However, according to NATO, the organization of the drills took “some weeks”, suggesting that the exercise was not arrange in direct response to the Russian activity in the Black Sea.
While initially Turkish Air Force F-16 fighters simulated attacks on the NATO ships which trained defence drills against these attacks, the Greek and Romanian F-16s, in a separate event, conducted similar training maneuvers with the Greek fighters attacking the ships which responded in a joint manner with the Romanian fighters. Subsequently, the Greek and Romanian fighters conduct aerial combat drills.
This exercise shows how Allies use unique opportunities to train multiple Allied forces in a multi-domain environment. By exercising in international waters and airspace just off the Romanian coast, NATO is able to further develop our operational tactics and refine airspace coordination with our Black Sea Allies. Allied Air Command experts in cooperation with the Combined Air Operations Centre at Torrejón, Allied Maritime Command and the participating nations planned the event over a number of weeks.
“Overall the air-maritime integration training demonstrates NATO’s capabilities, readiness and resolve to protect Allied populations; with our ships and aircraft peacefully operating off the Romanian coast we also assure the Allies in the region,” said Allied Air Command Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Andrew Hansen. “Our jets are unarmed to enable maximum training benefit and allowing for interoperability among the four Allies’ fighters,” he added.
“We have clear command and control arrangements and strict rules of engagement in place that every participant knows. These ensure that we conduct the training in a responsible and de-escalatory manner while still showing a credible and ready presence of NATO assets in the region,” said Combined Air Operations Centre Torrejon Commander, Lieutenant General Fernando de la Cruz.
For the moment, we have not heard about any Russian reaction (i.e. flying activity in the vicinity of the drills) to the NATO ADEX. We will update the story if some interesting detail emerges in the next hours/days.