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NATO AWACS Aircraft Fly 1,000th Patrol Over Eastern Europe

NATO E-3A Sentry AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft have flown their 1000th flight over Eastern Europe, according to a NATO news release. An AWACS reached the milestone Oct. 5, 2016. This milestone sends a strong signal of NATO’s solidarity with Allies in the eastern part of the Alliance.

The AWACS sorties over Eastern Europe began after Russia’s invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea in March 2014, with the NATO Sentries starting reconnaissance flights to monitor the situation in neighboring Ukraine.

The AWACS surveillance flights are flown entirely within the airspace of NATO member nations and do not cross into Ukrainian or Russian airspace. They provide air surveillance and enhanced situational awareness, and are also meant to help reassure allies on NATO’s Eastern Flank.

NATO has a fleet of 16 Sentries, which normally operate from NATO Air Base (NAB) Geilenkirchen, Germany, although they have been deployed to support operations over Turkey, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.  The E-3As provide the NATO Alliance with airborne command and control (C2), air and maritime surveillance, and battlespace management capabilities. The fleet is being upgraded and modernized and is expected to serve to 2025.