RAMSTEIN, Germany – NATO AWACS provided air command and control (C2) to Allied fighters that participated in exercise Ocean Sky hosted by Spain, which ran October 15-29.
Deployed to the Canary Islands, the NATO AWACS joined participants from the Greek, French, German and Italian Air Forces. The Ocean Sky scenario focused on advanced air to air combat based on multi-domain operations in high intensity setting.
The NATO AWACS provides C2 to the other air assets as an air traffic controller in the sky. The practical phase of exercise Ocean Sky included dissimilar air combat training which allowed increasing interoperability between the different participating units. The NATO AWACS in its function as an airborne command and control asset, provided direction to NATO air assets during the exercises enabling the rapid intercept of 'adversary aircraft' and coordinating Search and Rescue operations.
Greek F-16s alongside Spanish Eurofighters during exercise Ocean Sky 21. Participants in the exercise undertook advanced air to air combat. Photo courtesy of the Spanish Air Force.
NATO E-3A AWACS crew members busy on Ocean Sky controlling and coordinating Allied air assets during a mission. Photo courtesy of the Spanish Air Force.
Air transport aircraft like the A400M standing by to carry out refuelling missions during the exercise. This enhances the endurance of Allied fighters providing greater presence and flexibility. Photo courtesy of the Spanish Air Force.
AWACS aircraft can be employed in various roles to support NATO operations. In the Airborne Early Warning and Control role, it can provide airspace surveillance and early detection of airborne threats. 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.