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.
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