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30 OCT 2015
The Boeing E-3A Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) aircraft performs a unique and valuable role for the Alliance by conducting a wide range of missions. Originally designed as an elevated radar platform, the NATO E-3A has constantly evolved to address the realities of geopolitical change and NATO’s mission over the past 30 years. For about one and a half years the AWACS have been flying Assurance Measures flights along NATO’s eastern and southern border.
“We continue to employ AWACS surveillance flights including flights along our eastern borders from as far north as Estonia to southern Turkey,” said Brigadier General Karsten Stoye, NATO E-3A Component Commander. “These surveillance flights enhance the Alliance’s situational awareness and take place solely over Alliance territory. We provide a recognized air picture for our allied partners. These efforts are, of course, in accordance with NATO’s Assurance Measures established during the Wales Summit.”
NATO operates a fleet of AWACS aircraft, providing the Alliance with immediate airborne command and control (C2), air and maritime surveillance and battle space management capabilities. The AWACS platform is a highly responsive and adaptable force, well equipped and one of the immediate readiness elements of the NATO Response Force (NRF).
On a daily basis, one of the E-3A’s responsibilities is to be part of the identification of every movement across Alliance airspace. The AWACS shares their radar data with the Combined Air Operations Centres in Uedem , Germany and Torrejon, Spain in order to improve situational awareness for the commanders on the ground.
Stressing the importance of sharing radar data across the Alliance, Major General Ruben Carlos Garcia Servert, Commander of the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) Torrejon, said “The work we do at CAOC Torrejon is vital to protecting NATO Alliance members sovereignty over their airspace. We encompass many Control and Reporting Centres enabling us to coordinate air policing activities across Allied nations. Here at CAOC Torrejon, we monitor the airspace of the Southern Region from Azores Islands to Romania and from Canaries Islands to Turkey. Meantime, CAOC Uedem covers the northern region all the way to northern Norway.”
The AWACS, based in Geilenkirchen, Germany, maintain three forward-operating bases (FOBs) in Konya, Turkey, Aktion, Greece, and Trapani, Italy. There is also a forward-operating location (FOL) in Oerland, Norway.
L. J. De Rothschild