This decision to increase the air surveillance in the Mediterranean has been taken this week by the 28 Permanent Representatives of the North Atlantic Council, who remain concerned over the situation in Libya.
NATO Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, or AWACS, routinely monitor the airspace in the Mediterranean, as part of Operation Active Endeavour, a long standing mission which has given the Alliance an enhanced awareness of activity across the Mediterranean since 2001.
“We have extended surveillance in the Mediterranean. Having our AWACs monitoring the situation 24/7, will provide us with a better picture of what is going on and of course this improved picture is a prerequisite for evaluating the situation accurately", NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told a group of defence journalists in Brussels on March 9.
This enhanced mission is expected to achieve its 24/7 capability this week, as aircraft move to their forward operating base in Italy. The NATO AWACS aircraft will not be required to fly into Libyan airspace to monitor air activity given that the range of its radar is several hundred kilometres.