Along with several Patriot missiles batteries, about to be stationed along the border with Syria as part of a NATO force to protect Turkey from a potential ballistic missile attack by Assad’s forces, the alliance is about to deploy E-3A AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System) planes to the region.
According to a source who spoke off the record, the AEW planes are bound to Konya, one of the FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) of the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force component.
Although they were scheduled to attend a training exercise from the Anatolian airfield, it is safe to say that the “flying radar stations” will be used to keep an eye on the southern chunk of the Turkish airspace where Ankara has strenghtened the presence of Turkish Air Force planes since Turkey and Syria exchanged fire with Syrian forces on the border at the beginning of October.
[Read also: Turkey scrambles two fighter jets as Syrian Helicopter bombs Syrian border town]
The E-3 AWACS are not only capable to discover aircraft flying at very low altitude; they can provide Airspace Management duties as well as act as information sharing hubs (by interconnecting ground-based radar stations and flying assets), and can also detect missiles, as the Soviet-built Scud-B missiles that landed fairly close to the Turkish border lately.
In other words: although they may be on a scheduled deployment, they are moving into position should the need to support a Peace Support Operation arise.
H/T to Gábor Zord for the heads-up
Image credit: NATO
“Peace Support Operation”!! one of the best ones I’ve heard since “humanitarian intervention”. You could almost believe it is Syria that is the aggressor here and not US/Israel/UK/France etc and that bastion of democracy Saudi.
While the E-3A Component was deployed to Turkey in December, it was not in anyway related to NATO’s deployment of Patriots.
Several times a year on a regular basis, one NATO E-3A (AWACS) aircraft participates in routine training exercises in Turkey. The aircraft operates out of Konya, Turkey during these training events.
During these exercises, Turkish military pilots have the opportunity to train in conjunction with NATO AWACS aircraft. These training events exercise command and control procedures as well as test the connectivity of various NATO and Turkish communications and data sharing systems.
The exercises are planned well in advance and, again, have no link to the deployment of Patriots in Turkey.