NATO Operations in the Polish Airspace to Become Easier

Image Credit: USAF
Image Credit: USAF

Polish Ministry of Defence suggested that an amendment shall be introduced in the “Regulation issued by the Minister of Defence with regards to the matter of crossing the national border and flights of the foreign military aircraft in the airspace of the Republic of Poland”. The goal is to make joint operations with the NATO and EU forces easier and to eliminate administrative barriers that would make it more difficult for the Armed Forces to move, should a conflict break out.

The bill amending the regulation remaining in force now is to make rapid air deployments or operations of allied combat aircraft easier. This way the provisions of the Declaration made during the NATO Summit in Brussels (2018) would become valid, along with the Council-adopted conclusions on implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence, that became valid on 17th June 2019.

The bill created by the Polish Ministry of Defence along with the Ministry of Infrastructure assumes that simplification and shortening of the procedures related to obtaining landing approvals for the military aircraft or clearances for crossing the borders of the Polish airspace would be introduced.

Change in Paragraph 3 of the regulation issued by the Minister of Defence on 5th January 2005, with regards to crossing of the national border and flights of the foreign military aircraft in the Polish airspace, would shorten the term of advance in which the requests to enter the airspace/land in Poland shall be submitted, from 10 to 5 days, in case of aircraft that do not belong to NATO or the EU. In case of aircraft that belong to NATO or the EU states, the term in question is to be shortened to 3 days. Another provision that was added that a single permission would concern multiple airspace entrances. This had not been a part of the regulation earlier on, relevantly making it far more difficult to conduct exercises entailing numerous trans-border crossings.

The bill also introduces paragraph 9 to the regulation, as follows: “Flight that was a subject to permission issued by the Operational Commander of the Armed Forces can be conducted within the airspace of the Republic of Poland accessible for the air traffic in line with the airspace use rules defined by the Act issued on 3rd July 2002: “Aviation law”; and rules defined by international agreements ratified by the Republic of Poland and other agreements contained in a way allowed by those agreements”.

Thanks to this change not only would it be possible to conduct flights in line with paragraph 3 (following a positive decision of the Operational Command, if request is submitted in advance, 3-5 days before), but also the air traffic of the allied aircraft in the Polish airspace would be regulated, and thus they could be using the Polish airbases within the framework of international memorandums and agreements concluded in line with relevant regulations. This paves the way towards establishing rules concerning use of the Polish airbases by the NATO aircraft without a need to obtain a consent 3 to 5 days in advance provided that the matter is regulated by proper bilateral or multilateral agreements.

The actions are aligned with NATO and EU initiatives aimed at increased military mobility and establishing a proper force posture, should a threat emerge. Removing barriers, administrative ones included, hampering the military movements in Europe, is quite important here.