NATO provides security support for Dutch royal handover

  • 30 Apr. 2013 -
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  • Last updated: 30 Apr. 2013 20:39

NATO radar surveillance aircraft, known as AWACS, patrolled the skies over the Dutch capital of Amsterdam on Tuesday (30 April), working with the Royal Netherlands Air Force to safeguard Dutch airspace during the royal investiture ceremonies and festivities.

Nato's AWACS plane overflying the excersis area

The mission was to provide early notification of suspicious air activities and to make sure that all aircraft in the airspace did not divert from their flights plans. Had there been a discrepancy the aircraft concerned would have been contacted by radio or intercepted by fighter aircraft, based on information from the NATO surveillance aircraft.

NATO’s support was provided by four AWACS radar aircraft (two of these airborne, one on alert status and one in reserve), plus two tanker air refuelling planes. AWACS are NATO’s “eyes in the sky” and stand for Airborne Warning and Control Systems.  The surveillance and support aircraft are based in Geilenkirchen, Germany.  They are often used for countering potential airborne threats during major international events. The fleet of Boeing E-3A AWACS conduct a wide range of missions such as air policing, counter-terrorism, crisis response and demonstrative force operations. As well as providing air support to secure NATO summits or international sporting events. The AWACS also play a crucial role in NATO operations, such as Unified Protector in 2011 and the current ISAF mission in Afghanistan.