The build-up of the E-3A Component began in January 1980. In October 1980 the Component was granted the status of an international military headquarters by decision of the NATO Defence Planning Committee (DPC). Flying operations began in February 1982 after the delivery of the first E-3A aircraft. The Component was officially activated on 28 June 1982 and achieved full operational capability at the end of 1988.
The E-3A Component has played a significant role in promoting peace, stability, and global security. In the past, AWACS aircraft played an important role in NATO operations such as in Operation Eagle Assist in the United States after 9/11, in Libya and in Afghanistan.