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Spanish Air Force (Ejercito del Aire)

According to the Spanish Constitution, the mission of the Armed Forces is to guarantee the sovereignty and independence of Spain, to defend its territorial integrity and to enforce constitutional law.

The Parliament Act regulating the basic criteria for National Defence and Military Organization provides that "The Spanish Air Force is the organization mainly responsible for the air defence of the territory and for the control of airspace of national sovereignty", and its specific mission is the development of the joint strategy within the scope determined by its own resources and forms of action.

With the progress and technological development, Aerospace Power sits deeper and deeper as a cornerstone of Security and Defence. The control of an increasingly busy airspace, with both piloted aircraft (directly or remotely) and satellites, where the speed of air assets, aircraft and missiles is also increasing, requiring shorter and shorter response times, is now becoming one of the Air Force’s most complex missions.

The possibility to use many of these platforms for terrorists or intelligence purposes obliges us, in these times of peace, to ensure the security of that airspace by way of permanent monitoring, around the clock, without interfering with civil aviation. Moreover, although it is likely that the Air Force will continue to ensure security and defence in international operations abroad, being ready for the most demanding scenario: the defence of our own country and interests, wherever they are, should remain the priority.

Both scenarios, although totally different, require capabilities of monitoring and early warning, immediate reaction and appropriate response at strategic, operational and tactical levels; levels at which airpower can contribute simultaneously and in parallel.

The Air Force must make a sustained effort to convey to the nation's political and social institutions that its capabilities are indispensable to carry out the National Security Strategy determined by the Government.

In the new 21st Century strategic scenario, the Air Force will increase its involvement in humanitarian aid, crisis management or conflict prevention operations. These are radically different from traditional deterrence or general territorial defence activities, but do not exclude them. Thus, the Air Force must be balanced, including: out of area projection capability, the capacity to sustain prolonged operations, high readiness, the capability to impose the technological superiority of its weapons systems, and the capacity to rapidly integrate in or lead multinational units. In order to fully adapt to the new environment, the a number of operational capabilities will be central to the Air Force in thecoming years.

Air forces should guarantee an integrated national air defence and participate in the full spectrum of collective defence and crisis response missions for an indefinite period of time in scenarios far removed from the national territory. To meet these conditions and lead efforts if necessary, the 2003 Strategic Defense Review directed that the following was required:

  • To develop operations in two theaters, deploying a multirole combat aircraft squadron to each, with the required air transport means, combat and logistical support; while contributing with support means in a third theatre.
  • To collaborate in strategic air transport, sustainment and logistical support of forces deployed far or near, carrying out air-transport combat actions if necessary. The deployment of forces must be sufficient to permit the transport of a fighter Squadron and a light Tactical Group with its respective support to 3700 km distance within six days.
  • To contribute to NATO’s European Integrated Air Defence System (NATINADS), with air defence means and an Integrated Air Command and Control System fully compatible with the ACCS-NATO; guaranteeing surveillance, control and defence of Spain's air space and reinforcing the Integrated Airborne Warning and Control System through participation in the NAEW Force.

The Air Force’s own resources implicitly require to have a balanced set of aerial means both fixed wing, rotary, remotely piloted, misiles and space resources, reliable and accurate high-tech weaponry, and other Information Systems and Communications / Command and Control (CIS / C2) specialized in monitoring and providing early warning, remote detection and support for the deployment and operation; not forgetting cyberspace nor simulation.

These resources should allow for the completion of assigned missions, finding the right balance between traditionally high intensity and high volume military actions and those more subtle ones, small and specialized actions for special air operations, both by air and ground.

As of January 23rd, 2009 , Spain joined the (EU NAVFOR ) Naval Force of the European Union, renamed Operation ATALANTA, formed to collaborate with other naval forces sent to the Indian Ocean in the fight against piracy that threatens global maritime traffic and to provide security and stability to ships transiting these waters.

Escort and security is provided to ensure the safety of fishing and maritime traffic in general, an area of operations in the Indian Ocean, East of the coast of Somalia and measuring 5.2 million square kilometers (more than double extension of the Mediterranean Sea) has been established. Here, in the International Corridor in the Gulf of Aden, where the activity of potential pirate ships is fully controlled.

Since the beginning of Operation Atalanta until early 2012, Spanish aircraft has performed more than 430 missions, totaling over 3.350 flight hours. More than 108,000 surface vessels have been detected, of which more than 290 were suspected of piracy. In this period, more than 500 military forces of the Air Force’s Orion Detachment have participated.

In September 2012, the United Nations passed Resolution 2085 calling for the full restoration of constitutional order and territorial integrity of Mali, urging member nations to provide support to AFISMA (International Support Mission in Mali with African Leadership ) in its fight against terrorism. The Spanish contribution, in answer to a request from France, is framed within the European commitment to promoting security in the Sahel Zone and foster cooperation on security between the countries of the region.

The Tactical Air Detachment “Ivory” carried out the mission of strategic airlift in support of the efforts led by France and AFISMA (International Support Mission to Mali with African Leadership) in compliance with the resolutions of the Security Council and UN UNSCR 2071 UNSCR 2085. The Tactical Aid Detachment “Ivory”, on 5th February, 2013, declared the "Final Operational Capability” (FOC), having operated crews in the fields of Bamako (Mali), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Niamey (Niger) and N'Djamena, Abeche and Faya Largeau (Chad).



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