Exercise Joint Warrior brings together multi-national maritime, land and air units in northern Scotland for critical joint training in a multi-threat environment. With 28 ships and 81 aircraft involved from many NATO and partner nations, this complex scenario is where NATO’s AWACS E-3A aircraft and crews are able to provide a battle winning advantage.
AWACS aircraft are a true force multiplier and they can be employed to support NATO operations across Alliance territory
“AWACS aircraft are a true force multiplier and they can be employed to support NATO operations across Alliance territory,” said Allied Air Command Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Andrew Hansen. “These aircraft, crews and support staff can be forward deployed to airbases to support operations and exercises from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean, enabling 24/7 vigilance of NATO’s airspace,” he added. A primary role during Exercise Joint Warrior will be providing the task group commanders with airspace surveillance and early detection of airborne threats.
A NATO AWACS during take off with a second aircraft parked in the foreground (archives).
Photo by Andrea Hohenforst
With its maritime surveillance radar it can also provide support to maritime operations by establishing and providing a radar picture of ongoing activities at sea.
From an altitude of 10 km a single E-3A can constantly monitor the airspace within a radius of more than 400 km and can exchange information in near real-time – via digital data links – with ground-based, sea-based and airborne commanders.
A NATO AWACS in flight during a mission (archives)
Photo by Frank Crébas
Three E-3As with overlapping orbits can cover the entire area of Central Europe. By using pulse Doppler radar, an E-3A flying within NATO airspace can distinguish between targets and ground reflections and is therefore able to give early warning of low- or high-flying aircraft operating over the territory of a potential aggressor.
The NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force comprises of two units: The NATO E-3A Component in Geilenkirchen, Germany, and the E-3D Component of the Royal Air Force in Waddington, United Kingdom.