Military Committee visits NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force Headquarters
The NATO Military Committee, led by Chairman Petr Pavel, visited Geilenkirchen in order to become better acquainted with the restructured NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force (NAEW&C), and gain a deeper understanding of the NAEW E-3A Component's operations, programmes, and newly enhanced support capabilities.
The E-3A Component is one of two operational elements of the NAEW&C. It is NATO's first integrated, multi-national operational flying unit, making it unique in military history. The Component's mission is to provide aircraft and trained aircrews to deliver a surveillance and/or control platform and it is an essential part of NATO's Integrated Air and Missile Defence System.
The NAEW E-3A aircraft are NATO's flagship fleet, composed of 16 Airborne Warning And Control System surveillance aircraft (AWACS). They are currently the only military equipment that NATO owns itself as an Alliance. Derived from the Boeing 707, AWACS can provide air surveillance, command and control, battle space management and communications. NATO's AWACS are based at the NATO Airbase Geilenkirchen in Germany, with forward operating airfields in Greece, Italy, Turkey and Norway.
The E-3A AWACS have played an important role in NATO activities for over three decades, including over Afghanistan, Libya and the Balkans. AWACS aircraft from Geilenkirchen have also supported Operation Active Endeavour, NATO's maritime counter-terrorism operation in the Mediterranean. Most recently, NATO AWACS have conducted reconnaissance flights over Eastern Europe and begun to support Counter-ISIL Coalition by providing air surveillance and situational awareness.
While in Geilenkirchen, the Military Committee had the opportunity to further increase its knowledge of NAEW E-3A's operations, capabilities, and new capability enhancements. While touring the flight line, the Military Committee were invited to visit an E-3A aircraft, where they saw unique mission upgrades. After visiting the aircrafts, the Aircrew Training Squadron provided the Military Committee with a demonstration of a glass cockpit desktop trainer and new mission training systems. The on-site Mission Systems Engineering Centre (MSEC) also demonstrated some of the capacities of the aircraft on-board mission system, the mission sensor systems and E-3A ground support systems to the Military Committee.
Concluding the visit, General Petr Pavel stated that "NATO's Airborne Early Warning and Control Force continues to prove itself instrumental not only to monitoring our airspace, but also as an important part of NATO's command and control capabilities."