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E-3A Component

E-3A over Italy
The E-3A Component is one of the two operational units of the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force (NAEW&CF). It holds a unique place in military history because it was the first multinational flying unit established by the Alliance. Its mission is to perform air surveillance and battle management tasks ordered by the NAEW&CF Commander on behalf of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and approved by the North Atlantic Council. The post of E-3A Component Commander in the rank of Brigadier General is held alternately by the US Air Force and the German Air Force. The Deputy Commander is always a Colonel of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. 

The structure of the E-3A Component comprises three wings: Operations, Logistics and Base Support, as well as the three Forward Operating Bases and one Forward Operating Location. Each Wing is headed by a Colonel from a specific nation participating in the NAEW&C Force program. Multinational crews from 19 of the 31 NATO member nations are assigned to the E-3A Component's two operational squadrons and the training squadron. The E-3A Component has a multinational workforce of around 1400 military and civilian personnel. Fourteen E-3A aircraft are assigned to the E-3A Component. 

The Component also maintains three forward-operating bases at Konya in Türkiye, Aktion in Greece, Trapani in Italy, and a forward-operating location at Ørland, Norway. Each of the forward facilities are located on a national installation and the E-3A Component has about 20 personnel at each site. Although there are NATO personnel assigned to the E-3A Component, all of them are from the respective host nation.




The Crest


The E-3A Component emblem features a central field with the NATO star above the image of an E-3A aircraft and three lightning bolts emanating from below it. These elements are superimposed on an orange-yellow background with a portion of a dark blue globe beneath.

The NATO star symbolizes the multinational nature of the operational and supporting workforce of NATO’s first international operational flying unit.

The image of the E-3A depicts the aircraft performing surveillance tasks in order to provide early warning or accomplish battle management tasks in case of imminent danger. 

The lightning bolts portray the transmission of information with the aid of 21st century communications technology. 

The curving globe symbolizes the E-3A Component’s worldwide role as an element of the NATO Response Force (NRF), an operational unit that can be deployed within five days. 

The striking orange-to-yellow upper background represents sunrise and symbolizes the new era of the Component’s modernized fleet of aircraft. 

The emblem as a whole represents a modernized NATO AWACS fleet in its worldwide role as an important NATO asset for maintaining peace and security.

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Airborne Early Warning
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