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Mar 14 2024

NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force welcomes Supreme Allied Commander Europe

GEILENKIRCHEN, Germany - On 13 March 2024, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Christopher Cavoli visited the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (NAEW&CF) in Geilenkirchen, Germany, to discuss the Force’s contributions to NATO operations and current and future airborne early warning capabilities. SACEUR also commended troops and staff for their contributions to NATO’s enhanced vigilance activities and assurance measures since the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Commander of the NAEW&CF, Major General Thomas Kunkel welcomed SACEUR and underlined the significance of the visit, saying “Today’s visit of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe highlights the strategic role of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force and the E-3A AWACS for providing airborne command and control capabilities and thereby improving security for the Alliance. Our Force is committed to detect, direct and dominate the airspace and defend the Alliance.” 

General Cavoli and leadership of the NAEW&CF and the E-3A Component discussed challenges and opportunities with both, the current fleet and future capabilities, as well as future operations, and the role of the NAEW&CF as part of NATO’s enhanced vigilance activates and NATO’s initial Alliance Future Surveillance and Control capabilities (iAFSC). Members of the E-3A Component also briefed SACEUR on current deployments and operations as well as aircrew training.  

NAEW&CF plays a pivotal role in our collective defense. Your efforts are critical in enabling us to address security challenges with speed, precision, and agility. 

General Cavoli then directly addressed NAEW&CF personnel, highlighting the Force’s efforts and achievements and thanking troops and staff. "NAEW&CF plays a pivotal role in our collective defense. Your efforts are critical in enabling us to address security challenges with speed, precision, and agility. Thank you for all of your hard work and commitment to the Alliance," said General Cavoli.

E-3A Component Commander, Brigadier General Stefan Neumann emphasised the contributions to NATO exercises and operations. “Our staff in the Base Support Wing, the Operations Wing, and the Logistics Wing work tirelessly every day to execute our mission. They are the backbone to our ability to execute deployments such as to Romania or Lithuania, and help to protect every inch of NATO territory”, he said.

SACEUR, General Cavoli addresses staff and troops at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen. 
Photo by Staff Sgt. (OR-5) Andrew Sarver
SACEUR, General Cavoli (middle) during a demonstration of the mission crew simulator. 
Photo by Staff Sgt. (OR-5) Andrew Sarver
SACEUR, General Cavoli visits an E-3A AWACS. 
Photo by Staff Sgt. (OR-5) Andrew Sarver

During a demonstration of the mission crew simulator at the Aircrew Training Squadron, SACEUR saw how E-3A mission crew trains and executes the NATO airborne early warning and control mission. The visit concluded with a tour of an E-3A aircraft.

The NAEW&CF operates a fleet of 14 Boeing E-3A Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) aircraft, often referred to as NATO’s “eyes in the sky”. The aircraft are equipped with long-range radar and passive sensors and can detect, track, identify and report potentially hostile aircraft, as well as provide fighter control of Allied aircraft. The AWACS can simultaneously track and identify maritime contacts, and provide coordination support to Allied surface forces, making it a key surveillance, and command and control asset. NAEW&CF holds a unique place in NATO military history because it is with 19 flying nations the first multinational flying unit established by the Alliance and the AWACS is one of the few military assets that is actually owned and operated by NATO.

Story by Airborne Early Warning & Control Force Public Affairs Office

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Airborne Early Warning
& Control Force

P.O. Box 40800
Lilienthalallee 100
52511 Geilenkirchen
Germany

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Public Affairs Office
P.O. Box 40800
Lilienthalallee 100
52511 Geilenkirchen
Germany