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30 Years AWACS Geilenkirchen - Departures

It’s been 30 years since the E-3A Component first landed in Geilenkirchen airbase in Germany, marking the start of a new era in airspace surveillance. On 16 and 17 June, the gates of the airbase were opened to the public to mark this special occasion. It was a unique opportunity for the public to have an idea of what goes on behind the gates of the air base and provided some insight into the Component’s history, aircraft and daily operations.


The AWACS aircraft were of course in the spotlight during the celebrations, but each NATO nation represented at Geilenkirchen also brought in a special aircraft from their country to create an extensive and unique display for the visitors. Some of the highlights are the German EF2000, the Hellenic F-16D, the new Czech C-295M and of course the Polish Su-22 Fitter.  


But behind the celebrations lies a very serious purpose. Since its arrival on 28 February 1982 the E-3A AWACS with their distinctive “radar dish” have conducted countless missions including air policing,   counter-terrorism,  crisis  response  and  demonstrative

force operations. As well as providing air support to meetings of Alliance heads of state, governmental and non-governmental meetings, and NATO summits, the AWACS have also played a crucial role in NATO operations, such as Unified Protector in 2011.


For the arrival day a spotters day was organized, but unfortunately the weather wasn't cooperating. During the two days in the weekend the weather was a lot better, but as there was only a static display the photo opportunities weren't optimal. Therefore I decided to try my luck during the departure day on June 18th, which turned out pretty well. The weather was pretty good and almost every departing aircraft returned for a spectacular fly-by.   (Click here for a log)





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