Support to the counter ISIL coalition
Started 20th of October 2016
In view of the threat posed by ISIL, NATO decided to enhance its contribution to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL with AWACS surveillance aircraft. NATO’s advanced Airborne Warning and Control System Aircraft (AWACS) aircraft support the Coalition’s overall air picture by providing surveillance and situational awareness, thereby making the skies safer. They will not coordinate Coalition air strikes or provide command and control for fighter aircraft. AWACS only fly over international airspace or over Turkey. AWACS can detect aircraft hundreds of kilometers away so they can monitor airspace in Iraq and Syria from inside Turkey. This is an important contribution to the Counter-ISIL effort and a clear signal of NATO’s determination to help fight terrorism. By providing AWACS support, NATO is demonstrating its resolve to tackle security challenges coming from the south. The first flight took place on the 20th of October 2016.
Operation Sea Guardian
Started October 2016
At the NATO Warsaw Summit in July 2016, NATO announced the transformation of the Active Endeavour counter-terrorism mission in the Mediterranean to a broader maritime security operation. The new operation received the codename Sea Guardian. This is a non-article 5 maritime security operation aimed at working with Mediterranean stakeholders to maintain maritime situational awareness, counter-terrorism capabilities at sea and enhance capacity building.
Some of the tasks include: support to maritime situational awareness, upholding freedom of navigation, conducting interdiction tasks, maritime counter-terrorism, contributing to capacity building, countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and protecting critical infrastructure.
E-3A and E-3D AWACS aircraft participate in this operation. The AWACS, with its surveillance systems, is an excellent platform to contribute to the overall understanding of ship movement in the area – what NATO terms the Recognized Maritime Picture (RMP). This, coupled with AWACS’ command, control and communications capabilities, ensures commanders receive accurate information via automatic data link and distribution systems. With the Automatic Identification System (AIS), the aircraft can enhance the RMP by correlating the surface picture with the transmitted maritime identification codes.
Assurance Measure missions
Started March 2014
On March 10, 2014, the North Atlantic Council (NAC), in response to the situation in the Ukraine and Crimea, decided to employ NATO AWACS (Airborne Early Warning and Control System) in orbits over Poland and Romania. The first AM flight was flown from Geilenkirchen on 13 March 2014. AM sorties are flown to conduct air surveillance, enhance NATO’s situational awareness and to provide assurance to nations on NATO’s Eastern Flank. Over time additional orbits in the Baltics and Turkey have been added to extend these influences.
The NATO E-3A Component has provided the bulk of these missions from Geilenkirchen and from its Forward Operating Bases and Locations in Aktion, Greece, Konya, Turkey, Trapani, Italy and Oerland, Norway. The other Component of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, the UK E-3D Component, has contributed about 25 percent of the total sortie count and national contributions from the French E-3F and the Turkish E-7T fleets have made significant contributions.
NRF / VJTF
The NAEW&C Force contributes to NATO's Rapid Action Plan (RAP). The unit is part of several readiness forces with different responding times. Amongst these are the High Readiness Force (HRF), the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) and the NATO Response Force (NRF).