AWACS over NATO’s Eastern Flank
On Thursday, at the 1st Aviation Transport Base in Warsaw, the presentation of an AWACS Component E–3A aircraft from Geilenkirchen, Germany took place along with F–16 and MiG–29 aircraft of the 31st and 23rd Tactical Air Base.
The meeting was organized to note the realization of the 1,000th surveillance mission of NATO’s eastern flank by NATO early warning aircraft and AWACS Command.
“This is additional proof of the unity and coherence of the activities of the North Atlantic Alliance in the face of threats that are emerging. AWACS operations are part of a wider range of measures that NATO has taken to ensure safety on its eastern flank. We are talking about an increased number of Air Policing missions, a constant rotational presence of allied forces and a significant increase and scale of exercises undertaken within the Alliance,” said Col. Karol Dymanowski during the AWACS presentation.
Other participants of the meeting included: Deputy Commander General of the Types of Armed Forces, Divisional General Jan Śliwka, the Commander of the NATO E–3A Component in Geilenkirchen, Germany, Brigadier General Karsten Stoye and the crew of NATO's early warning aircraft and AWACS Command.
From the moment of Poland’s accession to NATO in 1999, the Polish Air Force started cooperation with the aircrew of AWACS systems aircraft, belonging to NATO.
In autumn of 2000, AWACS system aircraft first appeared over Polish skies.
After joining the NAPMO Program (NATO Early Warning and Control Programme Management Organisation) Poland along with 15 other NATO countries became full-shared users of the AWACS’ fleet of 17 aircraft. These aircraft are based permanently in Geilenkirchen, Germany and can also land and operate from military airports in Poland.
The Polish Air Force can use data information from AWACS’ system in states of emergency or conflict, and participate regularly in exercises involving early warning and guidance aircraft.
The first AWACS missions over Polish territory were part of recurring Fruit Fly/Eagle Talon exercises that took place in participation with Polish MiG–29’s, Su–22’s, TS–11 and F–16 aircraft, after taking on this equipment in 2006. AWACS system aircraft participated in all major military exercises of Anaconda and Dragon, and covered other events held on Polish territory for events such as the European Football Championship in 2012 and the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.
This year, AWACS aircraft actively participated in the Anaconda 2016 exercises and supported Polish F–16’s and MiG–29’s during the last NATO Summit held in Warsaw and the World Youth Day.
NATO aircraft also took part in six missions of the Air Force during Air Policing over the Baltic States.
Representatives of the Air Force serve different roles on board of the AWACS at the Geilenkirchen Airbase. Since 2002, more than a dozen officers have served their duty there.
As of the year 2015, a continuing cooperation between the base in Geilenkirchen and the 1st and 2nd Tactical Air Wing has been implemented, consisting of joint planning and execution of air missions together with aircrews of E–3A aircraft.