NATO's AWACS flights reach milestone: 1,000th patrol over Eastern Europe

  • 05 Oct. 2016 -
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  • Last updated: 06 Oct. 2016 12:42

NATO AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) reconnaissance planes flew their 1000th flight over Eastern Europe on Wednesday (5 October). This milestone sends a strong signal of NATO’s solidarity with Allies in the eastern part of the Alliance.

NATO operates a fleet of E-3 Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) aircraft, which provide the Alliance with an immediately available airborne command and control capability, air and maritime surveillance and battlespace management functions. NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany, is home to 17 Boeing E-3A aircraft.

In response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014, NATO started reconnaissance flights over Eastern Europe to monitor the situation in neighboring Ukraine.

These AWACS sorties provide air surveillance and enhanced situational awareness, helping to reassure Allies on NATO’s Eastern Flank. The surveillance flights operate in the airspace of NATO member nations and do not cross into Ukrainian or Russian airspace.

NATO's fleet of 16 AWACS aircraft operates from an airbase in Geilenkirchen, Germany.  The high-tech aircraft provide the Alliance with essential air and sea surveillance capabilities. They can also conduct command and control functions.