NATO AWACS E-3A LX-N 90442 right front 27052011
NATO AWACS Boeing E-3A Sentry c/n 22855 LX-N 90442 at NATO Air Base (NAB) Geilenkirchen in Germany on 27 May 2011. Note the engine cover with the NATO emblem. The NATO E-3A component operates 17 Boeing E-3A and two modified Boeing 707-320C aircraft (active as Trainer Cargo Aircraft, or TCA). The 18th E-3A was damaged beyond repair.
The E-3A component started operations at the former British air base Geilenkirchen in 1982. After the Cold War its role diminished and when it celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2007 almost every staff member was convinced the end was near. But world events have changed the outlook considerably. In 2009 NATO countries that were active in Afghanistan requested the components assistance. But France blocked the deployment of the NATO AWACS in that region and the unit kept hanging by its fingernails. Since the French ban was lifted in January 2011 the component is involved in no less than three major operations: two in Afghanistan and one to direct NATO fighters over Lybia. That takes its toll from the present personnel. The component now even has to increase staff numbers. See also the images of the Sentry's cockpit.
Related images in this EnoAeroPics media gallery:
NATO AWACS E-3A cockpit images
See all NATO AWACS Boeing E-3A Sentry images
Website NATO AWACS E-3A component.
See all images in this EnoAeroPics gallery on Flightglobal/AirSpace here.