A NATO AWACS aircraft on display for media at Bucharest international airport. Picture by Cynthia Vernat, Allied Air Command Public Affairs.
15 MAY 2017
BUCHAREST, Romania – The planning conference for the next term of AWACS support to NATO’s Assurance Measures started out with a media event at Bucharest International Airport today. The conference will be held on May 16 and 17 to schedule AWACS flights over eastern NATO countries between July and September 2017. Planning and coordination will also include AWACS flights in support of the global coalition against ISIL and NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian, a maritime security operation in the Mediterranean.
The conference is held in Bucharest, Romania to once more send a signal of NATO presence in the Assurance Measures implementation area – NATO’s eastern member countries. So did February’s scheduling conference which was held in Warsaw, Poland. Furthermore, Romania’s national Air Operations Centre (AOC) will play a significant role in the mission. It will coordinate daily activities with NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Torrejon, Spain which is responsible for NATO’s southern airspace, including the one of Romania. To increase cooperation between NATO and a national operational organisation, planning personnel is going to visit Romania’s AOC as part of the conference.
As of November 2016, all AWACS flights in support of this mission are under the operational control of NATO’s Allied Air Command. Headquartered in Ramstein, Germany it is responsible for all mission-related planning, scheduling and coordination. “With the surveillance flights of our AWACS aircraft we continue to signal our eastern Allies that NATO stands with them at all times” says Brigadier General Kevin Huyck, Deputy Chief of Staff Operations at Allied Air Command. As AWACS aircraft are also capable to function as airborne command and control platform, their presence furthermore provides opportunities for training with fighter assets. Also as part of the Assurance Measures, NATO is currently enforcing Romania’s national Air Policing capability with the deployment of British Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets.
NATO’s Assurance Measures have been implemented following the illegal and illegitimate Russian annexation of Crimea. They are a series of land, sea and air activities in, on and around the territory of NATO Allies in Central and Eastern Europe, designed to reinforce their defence, reassure their populations and deter potential aggression. Since the beginning of the mission AWACS aircraft have conducted around 1300 flights, enhancing situational awareness and demonstrating NATO’s presence.
L. J. De Rothschild