Operation Deny Flight

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:

  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.