April 12, 1993 - December 20, 1995


NATO Operation Deny Flight commenced at 1200 GMT on Monday, April 12, 1993, with aircraft from France, the Netherlands and United States.

On June 10, 1993, NATO foreign ministers agreed that NATO would provide protective air power in case of attacks against UNPROFOR in performance of its overall mandate in Bosnia-Herzegovina, if it so requested. This offer was in response to UN Security Council Resolution 836. Close air support (CAS) aircraft were deployed to the region. From July 22, 1993 on these forces were ready to provide UNPROFOR with protective air cover if requested to do so.

Operation Deny Flight was the successor of Operation Sky Monitor, which started on October 16, 1992, in support of UN Security Council Resolution 781. In this resolution a ban of military flights in the air space of Bosnia-Herzegovina was established. Flights conducted by or approved by the UN were exempt.

Operation Sky Monitor was commenced by extending the role of NATO Airborne Early Warning (NAEW) aircraft participating in Operation Maritime Monitor over the Adriatic.

Extended Role

UN authorities assessed that in more than 500 cases the ban was violated.

On March 31, 1993, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 816, extending the ban to cover flights by all fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft in the airspace of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, except those authorised by UNPROFOR. Member states were authorized to take all necessary measures, in case of further violations, to ensure compliance with the ban.

On April 8 the North Atlantic Council approved the enforcement of the no-fly zone in the framework of the UN Security Council Resolution 816.

Operation Deny Flight was conducted from April 12, 1993 to December 20, 1995, when the international Implementation Force (IFOR) assumed responsibilities for the implementation of the military aspects of the Peace Agreement on Bosnia-Herzegovina. During nearly 1,000 days this operation prevented the warring parties from using the air space as a medium for warfare.


The mission of NATO Operation Deny Flight was threefold:

  1. To conduct aerial monitoring and enforce compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 816 which banned flights by fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft in the airspace of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the so called "No-Fly Zone" (NFZ).

  2. To provide protective air cover (close air support - CAS) to UN troops on the ground at the request of and controlled by UN peace keeping forces under UN Security Council Resolutions 836 and 958 and 981.

  3. To conduct approved air strikes against designated targets threatening the security of the UN safe areas of Bihac, Gorazde, Sarajevo, Srebenica, Tuzla or Zepa.


NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) delegated authority for the implementation of Operation Deny Flight to the Commander in Chief of the Allied Forces in Southern Europe (CINCSOUTH), Admiral Leighton W Smith Jr (US Navy), in Naples, Italy.

He delegated control of the operation to the Commander Allied Air Forces Southern Europe (COMAIRSOUTH), Lieutenant General Michael E. Ryan, US Air Force, with headquarters in Naples.

Operational control of day-to-day mission tasking was delegated to the Commander 5th Allied Tactical Air Force, Lieutenant General Andrea Fornasiero, Italian Air Force, at Vicenza, Italy.

Coordination between NATO and the UN was arranged through an exchange of representatives between 5th ATAF and the UN Headquarters in Zagreb and Sarajevo. These liaison officers ensure a continuous exchange of information between NATO and UNPROFOR.

Key Events

Since aircraft participating in Operation Deny Flight also took part in actions that were important to the development of The Balkan conflict in general, the section with key events has been moved to the Chronology of key events.

Participating Forces

The operation started with assets from France, The Netherlands, and the United States. Aircraft were deployed to bases in Italy.

Country Base Aircraft #
The Netherlands Villafranca F-16A 10
Villafranca F-16A/R 4
France Cervia Mirage 2000 10
Istrana F-1 recce 4
United States Aviano F-15 12
USS Roosevelt F/A-18 12
Sigonella KC-135 AREF 5

Almost 4,500 personnel from 12 NATO countries -- Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States -- were deployed for this NATO operation. NATO aircraft were available at air bases in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom or on carriers in the Adriatic.

Air Bases

[Photo: USAF]
German MiG-29 and USAF F-16 on a joint mission during Operation Deny Flight

Aircraft of Operation Deny Flight
Country # Type Function Location Remark
France 5 Mirage F-1CR Reconnaissance Istrana +2 on recall
6 Mirage 2000C Fighter Cervia +2 on recall
4 Mirage 2000K/D Ground attack (CAS) Cervia
6 Super Etendard Fighter bombers (CAS) Adriatic Carrier
3 F-1CT Fighter (CAS) Istrana On call
1 C-135 AREF Istres
1 E-3F AEW Avord
6 Jaguar Fighter bombers Istrana +2 on recall
1 Myster Falcon 20Transport Capodichino
Germany 14Tornado UN RRForce support Piacenza
Italy 6 PA-200 Tornados FBA Gioia del Colle
2 PA-200 Tornados Reconnaissance Gioia del Colle
6 AMX Fighter (CAS) Istrana
1 C-130 Transport Pisa
4 G-222 Transport Pisa
1 B-707 AREF Pratica di Mare
The Netherlands4 F-16A Fighter (NFZ) Villafranca +2 on recall
5 F-16A CAS Villafranca +2 on recall
3 F-16A/R Reconnaissance Villafranca +2 on recall
1 C-130 Transport Rimini
2 F-27 Transport Rimini
Norway 2 C-130 Transport Rimini
Spain 1 CASA 212 Transport Vicenza
8 EF-18 CAS/NFZ Aviano
2 KC-130 AREF Aviano
Turkey 8 F-16C Fighter (NFZ) Ghedi +10 on recall
United Kingdom 6 FMK-3 Tornado Fighter (NFZ) Gioia del Colle
10GR-7 Harrier (CAS) Gioia del Colle
2 GR-7 Harrier Reconnaissance Gioia del Colle
6 Sea Harrier Dual-role (CAS/NFZ) Adriatic Carrier
2 L-1011 AREF Palermo, Sicily
2 E-3D AEW Aviano
United States 8 USAF F-15E CAS/NFZ Aviano
12USMC F-18D Dual role (CAS/NFZ) Aviano
12USAF F-16C/D Dual role (CAS/NFZ) Aviano
12USAF O/A-10 Ground attack (CAS) Aviano
3 USAF EC-130 ABCCC 1 Aviano
2 USAF EC-130 Electronic Warfare Aviano
2 USAF AC-130 Gunship Brindisi
10USAF KC-135 AREF Pisa / Istres
6 USMC EA-6B Electronic Warfare Aviano
12USN FA-18C Fighter (NFZ) Adriatic Carrier
6 USN FA-18C Dual role Adriatic Carrier
6 USN EA6B Electronic Warfare Adriatic Carrier
4 USN EA-6B Electronic Warfare Adriatic Carrier
5 USAF KC-10 AREF Genova
NATO AEWF 8 E-3A AEW Geilenkirchen 2

[1] - ABCCC = Airborne Battlefield Command and Control Centre
[2] - Geilenkirchen (Germany), Trapani (Italy), and Aktion (Greece)

The French E-3F aircraft and those from the E-3A and E-3D Components of NATO's Airborne Early Warning Force (NAEWF) supported Operation Deny Flight as well as the combined NATO/WEU Adriatic embargo enforcement Operation Sharp Guard. The E-3A aircraft were flown by multi-national crews provided by 11 NATO nations.


The French aircraft carrier Foch (when in the Adriatic), British carrier HMS Illustrious (when in the Adriatic) and one US carrier on call.


In the 983 days of Operation Deny Flight, a total of 100,420 missions were flown.

Operation Deny Flight statistics as of December 29, 1995
"No-Fly" Zone fighter sorties flown over Bosnia-Herzegovina 23,021
Close Air Support and Air Strike sorties over Bosnia-Herzegovina 27,077
Sorties by SEAD, NAEW, tanker, reconnaissance and support aircraft29,158
Number of training missions flown 21,164
Grand total 100,420

[Source: NATO, NRC Handelsblad and other international news media]