General Gorenc, in his statement quoted by the Breaking Defense webpage, stated that one third of the Polish territory is located within the range of the Russian Integrated Air Defense System. The USAF Europe commander also claimed that “other” parts of the NATO airspace are also located within the range of the Russian Federation anti aircraft systems.
In opinion of General Phillip Breedlove, who is the commander of the American Forces in Europe and commander of the NATO forces in Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation cannot assume having a complete air superiority over Europe in advance (as it happened in case of Afghan or Iraqi theaters). In other words, during a collective defence operation, execution of SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) operations against the potential enemy may be needed.
USAF Europe Commander most probably referred to the danger posed by the Russian mobile S-300P/S-400 SAMs. Maintaining air superiority is an indispensable condition which needs to be met in order to carry out collective defence operation effectively. However, to achieve that, expansion of capabilities in an environment where range of applied enemy countermeasures is wide and intensive is needed. During a conventional defence operation bad condition of equipment may be particularly dangerous, Germany is a perfect example here. Cutting down on training hours due to budgetary cuts or limiting the scope of procuring and maintaining modern armament are another two dimensions of the problem.
We have mentioned the danger caused by the S-400 SAMs and their detrimental impact on the effectiveness of the collective defence system when analysing the decisions made during the NATO summit in Newport.