In the early 1970s, various NATO studies indicated that an airborne early warning (AEW) system would greatly enhance the Alliance’s existing airspace defence system. In December 1978 the members of NATO’s defence Planning Committee (DPC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the procurement and operational use of an AEW system. This decision by the member nations launched NATO’s largest procurement programme of that time. The NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force (NAEW&CF) was established in January 1980.At the end of 1988 the E 3A Component was declared fully operational.The E-3D Component achieved fully operational status on 1 July 1992.

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