Tag Archives: Boeing E-3 Sentry

NATO Unveils New Special Livery E-3A AWACS for 35th Anniversary

Special Color Scheme Showcases Multinational AWACS Operations for NATO.

Special paint scheme aircraft are always interesting news but even more so when they are large ones. A newly painted NATO E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft was unveiled in Geilenkirchen, Germany, yesterday Jun. 12, to celebrate 35 years of Boeing E-3A Sentry operation for NATO. Noteworthy, another E-3 was painted in special color scheme recently, in anticipation of NATO Tiger Meet 2017.

The newly painted aircraft features a clean-looking coat of the standard grey color with the large distinctive NATO blue stripe wrapping under the fuselage and continuing up onto the tail of the aircraft. Flags of NATO member nations are included on the large fuselage stripe while the tail wears a large NATO compass rose logo against the blue background.

“The special painted AWACS gives great exposure to the task and mission of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force,” said Lieutenant Colonel Raimon Schulz, Chairman of the 35th Anniversary Committee.  “The anniversary aircraft will be flown for the upcoming 6 years and the decals can be adjusted to other special events like the celebration of 70 years NATO in 2019. The flags on the sides of the aircraft symbolize the multinational character of this unique unit within NATO,” Schulz told media in a press release on the NATO AWACS website.

For those who may be unfamiliar with AWACS operations, these Airborne Warning And Control aircraft use a large, distinctive hydraulically rotated saucer-shaped antenna on top of an updated Boeing 707 airframe. The large, rotating housing holds various versions of the Westinghouse Corporation’s AN/APY-1 and AN/APY-2 passive electronically scanned array radar system. The radars housed inside the saucer provide detailed radar imagery of the airspace from the ground up to high altitude. Radar monitoring and air control operators on board the E-3A AWACS aircraft communicate with aircraft in a crowded conflict zone to provide communication and datalinks, provide vectoring of air assets and traffic control into and out of target and patrol areas and assist with intercepts of aerial targets.

The NATO E-3A component has been deployed to nearly every air combat operation in the last three decades in the region and has been especially active in the Mediterranean and Middle East where the tempo of tactical air operations often requires a highly capable airborne traffic control, communications hub and surveillance asset.


NATO E-3A Sentry AWACS Gets Tiger Markings

A NATO E-3A Sentry has been given some cool tiger markings in anticipation of NTM2017.

A full member of the NATO Tiger Association since 1984, Flying Squadron 1 belonging to the NATO E-3A Component of the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force (NAEW&C Force), will take part in NATO Tiger Meet (NTM) 2017, at BAN Landivisiau, France, from Jun. 5 to 16.

NATO Tiger Meet (NTM) is an annual two-week multi-national mid-size exercise that gathers squadrons sporting Tiger (or feline) emblems and thus includes all types of air-to-air and air-to-ground and a wide variety of support missions, comprising CSAR and large COMAOs (Composite Air Operations).

The most peculiar feature of the meeting is the fact that the planes that attend it, (often) get painted in spectacular, flamboyant tiger outfits, making the event a treat for all aviation photographers.

The NATO Tigers Association’s motto “Hard to be Humble” (credit: NATO)

In anticipation of NTM 2017, that the unit will support from its MOB (Main Operating Base) at Geilenkirchen, Germany, the NATO E-3A Component has given one of its Sentry some interesting Tiger markings.

Indeed, as the photograph in this post show, the aircraft LX-N-90458 sports some brand new tiger stripes with the Tiger Association’s motto “Hard to be Humble” along with a pretty cool artwork that covers most of the rotodome’s left pylon.

The artwork applied to the E-3A rotodome’s left pylon (credit: NATO).

Image credit: NATO Airborne Early Warning Force


Amid raising tension with Russia NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft visit eastern Europe

After Russia moved nuclear-capable missiles to NATO’s doorstep, NATO surveillance planes make cameo visit to Eastern Europe. And celebrate 1,000 missions.

On Oct. 11, a NATO E-3A AWACS visited Amari airbase, Estonia. Two days later another E-3 flew to  Siauliai, Lithuania: symbolic moves, that shows the alliance’s commitment to maintaining a persistent presence in Eastern Europe, where Russia has recently deployed nuclear-capable missiles.

The visit to Siauliai airbase, in Lithuania, main operating base of NATO’s BAP (Baltic Air Patrol) mission was preceded by a presentation of the NATO E-3 AWACS component E-3A at the 1st Airlift Base of the Polish Air Force in Warsaw. A visit that marked the surveillance plane’s 1,000th operational flight at NATO’s eastern flank since the beginning of Ukraine crisis.

The Boeing surveillance aircraft, one of the 16 E-3A AWACS planes based at Geilenkirchen, in Germany, was welcome to Warsaw by F-16 and MiG-29 jet fighters from the 31 and 23 Airbases of the Polish Air Force.


Besides the Director of the Arms Policy Department, Col. Karol Dymanowski, the E-3 visit to Poland was the opportunity to celebrate the 1,000 sorties of the NATO’s primary Airborne Early Warning & Control platform in eastern Europe with a meeting attended by Deputy Commander of the Polish Armed Forces, Div. Gen. Jan Śliwka, commander of the Geilenkirchen NATO E-3A Component Brig. Gen. Karsten Stoye, along with the crew of the AWACS aircraft.

Interestingly, 5 members of the multinational aircrew were Polish.

E-3A Sentry aircraft have been operating inside the Polish airspace since the 2000. Once Poland joined the NAPMO (NATO Early Warning and Control Program Management Organization) program, along with 15 other countries, Warsaw acquired a right to use the fleet of the 17 AWACS platforms that remain at the NATO’s disposal. Besides Geilenkirchen, the jets are also authorized to use the Polish airbases, such as the Powidz 33rd Airlift Base which is visited by them quite frequently.


AWACS airframes were involved in operations over Poland for the first time during the Fruit Fly/Eagle Talon exercise back in 2006, which was the first exercise with the participation of Sentry, following the acquisition of the F-16 Block 52+ jets, ten years ago On the other hand, the Geilenkirchen-based aircraft also provide support in organization of mass events, such as the Euro Football Cup organized back in 2012, or the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.

This year, E-3A component participated in and supported the ANAKONDA-16 exercise, NATO Summit in Warsaw and the World Youth Day, as well as the Baltic Air Policing operation. According to the release issued by the Polish MoD, the Geilenkirchen component has also been closely cooperating with the Polish fighter pilots of the 1st and 2nd Tactical Aviation Wings, since 2015.

The operations undertaken by the airborne radar are also tied to a number of NATO initiatives, including the aforementioned BAP mission as well as the rotational presence of the NATO forces in the region, within the framework of the Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The E-3A airborne radar is available to the member states during the crisis, as well as during the exercises concerning the IADS (Integrated Air Defense System) or other significant allied training initiatives.


Image credit: Foto Poork’s Wojciech Mazurkiewicz


Russian aircraft carrier still in the Mediterranean Sea. NATO planes watch closely

Aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is still in the Mediterranean where it operates watched closely by NATO E-3 AWACS.

Even if it has reportedly ended its mission and headed for Severomorsk, Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is still sailing in the Mediterranean Sea.

Its position can be determined based on the NOTAMs (Notice To Airmen) issued for the Algiers FIR (Flight Information Region).

Two of them provide details about the area of operation of the aircraft operating from the carrier:

A0962/14 – AIRSPACE RESERVATION FOR RUSSIAN NAVY WILL TAKE PLACE PLAN FLTS FM ACFT CARRIER AVIATION WI AREA BRAVO (B): 3900N 00500E 3900N 00700E 3740N 00700E 3720N 00500E 3900N 00500E. SFC – FL180, APR 23 24 25 AND 26 HR:0800-1700, 23 APR 08:00 2014 UNTIL 26 APR 17:00 2014. CREATED: 21 APR 09:54 2014

A0961/14 – AIRSPACE RESERVATION FOR RUSSIAN NAVY WILL TAKE PLACE PLAN FLTS FM ACFT CARRIER AVIATION WI AREA ALPHA (A): 3745N 00220E 3825N 00400E 3720N 00400E 3700N 00210E 3745N 00220E. SFC – FL160, APR 24 25 AND 26 HR:0800-1700, 24 APR 08:00 2014 UNTIL 26 APR 17:00 2014. CREATED: 21 APR 09:47 2014

Russia aircraft carrier

Image above shows the waypoints of Area B put on a map using Skyvector.

While such warnings are often issued for (U.S.) aircraft carriers hence they are not really special, what is worth noticing is that the flying activity of the Russians in the Mediterranean Sea is watched closely by NATO E-3 planes.

Indeed, it seems that NATO AEW (Airborne Early Warning) planes have frequently operated in the Southeastern Mediterranean in the last few days, while Admiral Kuznetsov transited south of Malta towards the waters off Algeria, between Sardinia and the Balearic islands.

Most probably, the E-3s are not only observing the Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D all-weather carrier-based air defence fighters but also performing routine electronic surveillance by means of onboard electronic support measures (ESM).

H/T Roberto Petagna for sending us the relevant NOTAMs

Image credit: Russian Navy


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[Photo] NATO E-3 AWACS refueled over Eastern Europe by U.S. KC-135 tanker

KC-135 Stratotankers of the 100th ARW (Air Refueling Wing) from RAF Mildenhall are supporting NATO planes over Eastern Europe.

There’s a lot of aircraft currently operating over Romania and Poland, following Russia’s annexiation of Crimea.

Among them, the KC-135 tankers refueling the E-3 AWACS of the Royal Air Force and French Air Force (as the one in the image) that NATO deployed close to Ukraine in order to monitor the air activity of Russian planes amassing near the border.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


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