The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) today began deploying five of its Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft from Europe to the United States. While deployed here the aircraft will operate with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in support of Operation Noble Eagle, helping to defend the continental United States in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks.
The United States asked NATO to deploy the AWACS aircraft to assist in the NORAD mission, to allow other aircraft of this type to deploy elsewhere, and to lower the operational tempo of this high-demand aircraft.
The NATO aircraft are flying in from Geilenkirchen, Germany, and will be based at Tinker AFB, Okla., home of the U.S. Air Force AWACS fleet. The NATO aircraft will be escorted by a NATO trainer cargo aircraft, a Boeing 707 used to transport detachment personnel and their equipment.
The deployment grows out of a decision to provide a NATO presence and demonstrate resolve. In the past, NATO has used AWACS in Bosnia and the Balkans to assist in air operations.