GEILENKIRCHEN, Germany - For the first time ever, the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (NAEW&CF) conducted command and control (C2) operations on Friday, Feb. 9, 2024, with an all-female aircrew composition.
The flight was a regular mission sortie for the multinational crew in support of NATO’s enhanced Vigilance Activities (eVA). With the flight NATO AWACS highlights the women working in the Airborne Early Warning community and shines a light on female aviation.
Showcasing the capabilities of the female crew will prove that women are able to perform in traditionally male-dominated occupations in equal capacity
“The purpose of this flight encompassed our operational mission safeguarding NATO’s borders,” said Captain Béatrice, Aircrew Training Squadron Flight Commander. She explained that it is normal for the E-3A AWACS to have women on the flight or serve as maintainers for the aircraft.
NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force crew members discuss the mission.- NATO Photo by NATO Channel/Michael Linennen.
A flight engineer assigned to the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force conducts a systems check during flight. - NATO Photo by NATO Channel/Michael Linennen
Women assigned to the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force gather for a group photo after conducting the first all-female NATO AWACS flight on February 9th, 2024, at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany. -NATO Photo by Staff Sgt. (OR-5) Andrew Sarver.
“The flight demonstrates that the mission and every position on board the AWACS can be executed by women,” said Captain Ciara, Aircrew Training Squadron Simulator Operations Chief. “Showcasing the capabilities of the female crew will prove that women are able to perform in traditionally male-dominated occupations in equal capacity.”
The flight was organised by the NAEW&CF Women’s Initiative Team (WIT) who aim to champion equality and inclusion and was the first attempt of a crew comprised of female aviators representing various backgrounds highlighting the achievements of women in aviation.
According to the 2020 Summary of the National Reports of NATO Member and Partner Nations, the average percentage of women in the armed forces of the NATO Alliance has more than doubled since 1998. As the Alliance’s mission is to protect its one billion people, NATO believes that women play a vital role in all that is done to build a stronger Alliance that draws on the skills and talents of its diverse population.
“Everyone is unique and brings individual talents to the team, which benefits our operational effectiveness within NATO,” said Technical Sergeant Maddie, 852nd Medical Dental Squadron Laboratory NCO In-Charge. “By recognising strength in diversity, we can unleash its potential and positively impact the culture at NATO.”
Since 2013, gender perspectives have been integrated in NATO defence planning, Strategic Intelligence Requirements, and in its work to counter terrorism. NATO believes every policy, program, or project can affect men and women differently, so understanding these differences can help improve the way work is pursued.