After deploying to Norway for the multinational exercise Cold Response 2020, NATO AWACS aircraft were quickly reassigned to support Air Policing and Deterrence operations in the area when the exercise was cancelled over coronavirus fears.
“Flexibility, responsiveness, and excellence are the hallmarks of the NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) Force, and are the reason we continue to be an outstanding example of NATO capability and unity, and of what the now 30 NATO Nations can achieve when working together,” said the Force Commander, Major General Jӧrg Lebert.
The NATO AWACS team from NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany, were operating from their Norwegian Forward Operating Location (FOL) Orland, providing Air Battle Management and Surveillance support to confirm NATO’s capability and operational readiness to operate under harsh arctic conditions during exercise Cold Response 20.
When Norway cancelled the exercise over coronavirus concerns, the deployed AWACS crews and maintainers from Geilenkirchen were preparing to return to their Main Operating Base in Geilenkirchen. However, as the COVID-19 crisis developed, plans were made to delay their return, making use of the facilities provided at one of its four Forward Bases, say NATO in a release.
“This decision proved to be a good one, as an increase in the need for Air Policing capability in the northern NATO area required the deployed crews to quickly switch from their training mode in order to fly real-world operations,” said the Deployment Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Bengt Bergan, Royal Norwegian Air Force.
“Demonstrating the significant role NATO AWACS plays in the deterrence and defence of SACEUR’s Area of Operations, the Geilenkirchen team, together with the host nation’s FOL personnel, were immediately available to support operational tasks as two combat-ready multi-national crews and two combat-ready NATO AWACS aircraft were launched to support Allied Air Command tasks,” he added.