NATO AWACS aircraft tail number 455 departed on Tuesday, 12 December 2017 for retirement in Tucson, Arizona.
Geilenkirchen, Germany - The downsizing of the NATO AWACS fleet continues with the second NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft, tail number 455, which departed on Tuesday, 12 December 2017 for its retirement in Tucson, Arizona, at the 309 Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG). This retirement brings NATO’s AWACS fleet down to 15 E-3As. By the end of 2018, the third NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft, tail number 458, is scheduled to retire, with a total of 14 aircraft remaining available for NATO E-3A missions and operations.
Captain Gernoth Bock, Project Officer for the retirement of aircraft 455, says, "The last mission flight took place on Friday, 1 September 2017, followed by a P-sortie flight on Friday, 29 September”. With that, its loyal service as fully mission capable NATO E-3A AWACS ended. After its landing on 29 September it was handed over to the Logistics Wing. Bock explains, "Between Monday, 6 November and Wednesday, 6 December 2017, Logistics Wing personnel worked on the removal of equipment in accordance with the applicable Time Compliance Technical Order (TCTO)”.
He explains, "The mission-related parts were removed, the white parts in the aft lower lobe, radar supporting parts, computer parts, antennas, some chairs and consoles”.
Equipment required to safely fly the aircraft to its final destination at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, USA, remained on the aircraft. All flight deck controls, the communication section and all electronic equipment remained operational, as well as the air conditioning system, galley and toilet.
On Friday, 8 December, a confidence flight was performed to ensure tail 455’s safe last flight to the USA.
Bock says, "The Workload Agreement as well as the Statement of Work in support of the aircraft retirement for the second and subsequent retiring NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft are different from those for the first aircraft, tail number 449, which retired in June 2015. Then, some 30 Logistics Wing (LW) personnel were deployed to AMARG and worked for four weeks on the reclamation of parts. This time, roughly 17 LW personnel will deploy as advisors and pack/part certifiers to "assist” in the part removal, which will now be performed by AMARG personnel.”
The project’s work procedure is divided into four phases:
12 December 2017: Departure of NATO AWACS 455 from NATO Air Base (NAB) Geilenkirchen, Germany, to AMARG, Tucson, AZ, USA.
13 to 15 December 2017: AMARG aircraft storage induction, where NATO will provide technical assistance to AMARG by one crew chief, one propulsion specialist, one E&E specialist and one quality assurance specialist to prepare the aircraft for temporary storage.
18 December 2017: LW technicians and flight deck crew return to NAB Geilenkirchen by ASL flight.
18 Dec 2017 – 28 Feb 2018: Reclamation of parts solely handled by AMARG.
18 February 2018: A LW-ADVON team (8) arrives at AMARG. Four supply personnel start preparing the shipment of the Phase IIa reclaimed parts.
26 February 2018: On an ASL flight an additional nine LW specialist arrive at AMARG. The returning ASL aircraft will carry maximum capacity of parts back to NAB Geilenkirchen.
26 Feb – 27 March 2018: The LW team will be there as advisors and pack/part certifiers during the Phase IIb parts reclamation to support AMARG removing parts. The respective specialists will then certify the parts and prepare serviceable tags for return to NAB Geilenkirchen.
12-14 March 2018: An ASL aircraft flies to Tucson for pickup of another load of reclaimed parts to be returned to NAB Geilenkirchen.
26-28 March 2018: An ASL aircraft flies to Tucson for the last time to pick up the entire LW team as well as the final load of parts reclaimed during Phase IIb to be returned to NAB Geilenkirchen.
Remaining designated items will be removed by AMARG. This Phase is expected to be completed by December 2018.
Part reclamation Phase IV will be active until the end of the storage period, 10 years; during this phase parts can be made available via special request to AMARG.
The total value of reclaimed parts during all phases will be roughly 60 Million Euro.
AMARG will prepare the aircraft for disposal upon expiration of the period of performance (10 years) subsequent to NATO concurrence. Preparation includes removal of items to meet environmental or demilitarization requirements. AMARG will then also demilitarize the aircraft in accordance with NATO demilitarization procedures.
Story by NAEW&C Force Public Affairs Office