Saturday

27th Feb 2021

Fresh statistics show massive US air superiority over EU

  • US fighter jet. The US flew more military flights in European airspace last year than any European country (Photo: Air Combat Command)

New statistics released by European air controllers show the vast superiority of the US air force over EU countries and the density of US military traffic in European skies.

The numbers, published by the Brussels-based Eurocontrol on Wednesday (12 October), note that the US has a total of 13,195 military and paramilitary air vehicles compared to 8,111 in the 27 EU countries combined. The EU's top air powers - France (1,339), the UK (1,296), Germany (1,096) and Italy (901) - come nowhere near.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The difference is even bigger when it comes to combat aircraft. The US has 3,630 combat jets (not counting helicopters). France has 380, Germany 346, the UK 213 and Italy 164. Meanwhile, Greece is exposed as a mini-air-power - the small Balkan country has 304 combat jets. Its prickly-neighbour-cum-Nato-ally Turkey has 401.

The US in 2010 carried out a massive 38,482 military flights in European Civil Aviation Conference airspace, a zone covering the EU, Ukraine, the western Balkans, Turkey, the south Caucasus as well the more remote Iceland and Danish-owned Greenland. Italy (39,985) and France (31,962) were the only EU countries with comparable traffic albeit on their home turf.

Russia, a Cold-War-era superpower and Western adversary, made just 558.

The Soviet Union's Cold War footprint is visible in the type of military aircraft used by EU countries, however.

France and the UK use home-made combat jets, like Rafales and Typhoons. Germany and Italy favour US-made and British technology. Greece has French and US combat jets. But many former Communist and Soviet EU members are still using Russian-made aircraft.

Bulgaria relies on MiG-21s, MiG-29s and Su-25s. Romania and Slovakia use only MiG-21s and MiG-29s. Poland has a handful of US-made F-16s but the bulk of its fleet are MiG-29s and Su-22s. The Baltic states have no fighter jets but use mostly Russian-made Antonov cargo planes.

The Czech Republic and Hungary have broken with the past, buying Swedish-made JAS and Gripen fighter jets instead.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders restate defence 'autonomy' plan
  2. Rights group exposes Ethiopia massacre
  3. US carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Syria
  4. Malta closes investigation into journalist murder
  5. Dutch parliament calls China treatment of Uighurs genocide
  6. Spain fined €15m by ECJ over data failures
  7. Belarus: Anti-government protester jailed for 10 years
  8. German charged with spying for Russia in Bundestag

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Armenia 'coup' shows waning of EU star in South Caucasus
  2. 'Difficult weeks' ahead, as variants spread across EU
  3. EU top court advised to strike down Hungary's asylum policy
  4. Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency
  5. Is EU poised to solve child labour in 'green' batteries?
  6. The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them
  7. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  8. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us