Welcome home! Last AWACS returns from Afghanistan
After more than 1,240 missions and 12,240 flying hours, the AWACS fleet is finally home. On Sept. 25, 2014, the last AWACS returned to its home base in Geilenkirchen, Germany, from Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan.
NATO has determined that AWACS aircraft will not be required for the Resolute Support Mission that stands-up on Jan. 1, 2015, as the new mission will focus on train and assist. The overall impact for the future will be minimal, as air traffic control for military aircraft over Afghan airspace will be managed by the Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) in Al Udeid, Qatar, coordinated with the responsible civilian air traffic authorities.
"The men and women who have conducted this vital mission since January 2011 have made a tremendous difference to our forces in Afghanistan," said Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove. "They provided the 'eyes in the sky' for countless troops who have relied upon them for critical information supporting thousands of missions."
In Afghanistan, the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force (NAEW&CF) performed unique and valuable roles for the Alliance by conducting air surveillance, tactical battle management functions such as support and control of friendly aircraft involved in offensive and defensive counter air operations, close air support, battlefield air interdiction, combat search and rescue, reconnaissance, and tactical air transport.
"I want to congratulate the entire NATO E-3A Component on over 3 years of sustained operations in Afghanistan," said Maj. Gen. Andrew Mueller, Component commander. "You did something never imagined by those who created the Component over 35 years ago, demonstrating that the E-3A Component remains a ready, reliable and relevant capability for NATO Commanders today."