RAMSTEIN, Germany- This year, on February 24, exactly 40 years ago, a multi-national aircrew landed the first of eighteen NATO E-3A Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACS) aircrafts at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen. This historic moment marked a milestone for the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (NAEW&CF) and the NATO Alliance. Since 1982, the NAEW&CF has provided air surveillance and situational awareness and delivered Airborne Command and Control to NATO Allies, ensuring the integrity and security of NATO Air Space.
In the last four decades NATO E-3A AWACS have conducted a wide range of missions from peacetime Air Policing, support to counter-terrorism, evacuation operations, humanitarian aid and crisis response missions. From the active support of NATO offensive air operations against the regime of the former Yugoslavia to the deployment to the United States of America after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to the current support to organization against Islamic State terrorism, NATO AWACS has been continuously engaged in maintaining peace and security around the globe.
Since 1982, the NAEW&CF has provided air surveillance and situational awareness and delivered Airborne Command and Control to NATO Allies. BAck in 1982, a mission crew and landing. Archive photos
The E-3A Component holds a unique place in NATO military history, because it is the first multinational operational flying unit established by the Alliance, with 20 NATO member nations participating in the programme. It's long standing and continued mission is to perform air surveillance and battle management tasks, ordered by the NAEW&C Force Commander, on behalf of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, as tasked by the North Atlantic Council, NATOs highest leadership institution.