NATO AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) reconnaissance aircraft flew their 1,000th flight over Eastern Europe on 5th October, signalling solidarity with Allies in the eastern part of the Alliance.
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. The 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 (Poland, Romania, the Baltics and Turkey) and do not cross into Ukrainian or Russian airspace.
The milestone comes eight months after a NATO E-3A completed the 1,000th mission in support of NATO Assurance Measures (AM).
The NATO E-3A Component provides the bulk of these missions from NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany and from its Forward Operating Bases and Locations in Aktion (Greece), Konya (Turkey), Trapani (Italy) and Oerland (Norway).
The other Component of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force, the UK E-3D Component (six aircraft), has contributed about 25% of the total sortie count. National contributions from the French E-3F and the Turkish E-7T fleets have also made significant contributions.