Text: Anthony Graulus - Pictures: Anthony Graulus, Philippe Decock & Jacques Vincent - Translation: David Niemegeerts
© sbap 2017
 

This year, the airbase of Geilenkirchen celebrated the 35th anniversary of the commissioning of the E-3A Sentry, more commonly known as "AWACS" within the NATO. The NATO airbase of Geilenkirchen is located in Germany, and is close to the Netherlands, Belgian and Luxemburgish borders, an undeniable strategic location.
The NATO operates a fleet of Boeing E-3A Sentry aircraft, equipped with an airborne detection and control system, together with passive sensors and long range radar, capable of detecting aerial and ground movement over very large distances. This fleet carries out a wide range of missions and operations, be it policing the skies, supporting counter-terrorism activities, evacuation operations, embargoes, all in response to different crises that threaten our democracy and free world. The AWACS have played an important role in various Alliance operations, such as in the United States after 9/11, Libya, Afghanistan and currently in the Syrian conflict. These legendary aircraft, recognized by the dorsal antenna, also provide air support during NATO summits, or even at international sports events. Some 18 AWACS were purchased by the NATO, and we can really emphasize the robustness and reliability of this plane, as in fact only one plane was lost in 35 years of operations, following an accident in Greece. On the other hand, another E-3A Sentry was retired from service in 2015, this one having reached its probable limit. All aircraft were delivered between February 1982 and May 1985, they were registered in Luxembourg, a member of NATO that does not have an air force of its own, in order to maintain certain neutrality between the other NATO countries. 

Thus, 16 AWACS are currently in operation, sharing the Geilenkirchen facilities in partnership with the US Air Force, which is using it as a logistics platform for its KC-135 tankers linking the United States with various conflict areas in the Middle East. During this year, 2017, to celebrate 35 years of good and loyal service within the NATO, an open-doors day on the base of Geilenkirchen was organized during the first weekend of July, Friday being reserved for journalists and aeronautical photographers, making it possible to immortalize the arrival of the participants of the weekend. Given the long-standing restrictions on aerial demonstrations in Germany, since the Ramstein accident in 1988, all aircraft were presented in a static zone only.
To visualize this anniversary, one of the "Sentry" received a special decoration, rather fitting. The plane in question, the LX-N90450, sported a decoration representing all the flags of the member countries, as well as the emblem of the NATO, Large on the side, all on the blue backdrop of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As at each aeronautical event, some foreign participants were forced to cancel their participation at the last minute, but the gamble was a success, despite somewhat mixed weather. We can also emphasize the excellent organization, despite the strict controls imposed by the situation in Europe, given the permanent terrorist threats.
Who will be the replacement for the Boeing E-3A Sentry within the NATO? Too soon to say, but 35 years of good and loyal service had to be stressed, and this was done with splendor at the beginning of July 2017.
SBAP would like to warmly thank the airbase authorities for the organization, and in particular the media service for the accreditation and facilitation during the event.

 
Polish Air Force Sukhoi Su-22UM-3K  (21.BLT)
(Philippe Decock ©)
(Philippe Decock ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©) Polish Air Force Mikoyan Gurevitch MiG-29UB  (23.BLT)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
U.S. Kansas Ang Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker  (190th ARW)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) USAF Gulfstream Aerospace C-37A Gulfstream V
(Jacques Vincent ©)
Belgian Air Force Lockheed-Martin F-16AM  (31 Sqn)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) German Air Force Eurofighter EF2000  (TLG 74)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
German Air Force Panavia Tornado IDS  (TLG 33)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) HeliHub Bell 206B JetRanger III in contract for the German Army
(Anthony Graulus ©)
Netherland Air Force Mc Donnell-Douglas KDC-10  (334 Sqn)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) Airbus Group EADS Hispano Aviación HA.200-D Saeta
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 This strange jet was designed by Willy Messerschmitt
(Jacques Vincent ©)
(Philippe Decock ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) German Air Force Transport Allianz C-160 D Transall  (LTG 61)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
French Air Force Daher TBM-700  (ET00.041)
(Philippe Decock ©)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) Czech Air Force Saab JAS39D Gripen  (211.tl)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
Czech Air Force Mil-Mi 35  (221.vrl)
(Philippe Decock ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) German Air Force Panavia Tornado ECR  (TLG 51)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
German Air Force Airbus Military A400M  (LTG 62)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) Czech Air Force Casa Nurtanio C295M  (242.tsl)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
Piper L-18C Super Cub (PA-18-95)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) Greece Air Force Mc Donnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom II  (339 MPK)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 Polish Navy PZL M-28B Bryza 1R  (44.BLotM)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) Danish Air Force Bombardier CL-604 Challenger  (Esk 721)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
 Belgian Air Force Lockheed-Martin F-16AM  (1 Sqn)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) Danish Air Force Lockheed-Martin F-16BM  (Esk 730)
(Philippe Decock ©)
Danish Air Force Lockheed-Martin F-16AM  (Esk 730)
(Philippe Decock ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) German Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion  (MFG 3)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
 Belgian Air Force Dassault-Dornier Alpha Jet 1B  (11 Sqn / AJETS School)
Anthony Graulus ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
(Jacques Vincent ©) Hungarian Air Force Antonov AN-26 Curl (MH 59. Sz.D. R)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
 Flying Mignon...
(Jacques Vincent ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) Cessna 525 CitationJet CJ1  (Lufthansa Flight Training)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
 U.S. Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon  (VP-16)
(Jacques Vincent ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) (Jacques Vincent ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) U.S. Wyoming Ang Lockheed C-130H Hercules  (153 AW)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 Hungarian Air Force Saab JAS39C Gripen  (MH 59. Sz.D. R)
(Philippe Decock ©)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Anthony Graulus ©) Polish Air Force PZL M-28B Bryza TD  (42.BLSz)
(Philippe Decock ©)
 Two propeller screw and three reserve?...   (Philippe Decock ©)
 NATO Boeing E-3A Sentry  (NAEW&CF)
(Anthony Graulus ©)
The splendid jubileum aircraft
(Philippe Decock ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 (Jacques Vincent ©) (Anthony Graulus ©)
 (Philippe Decock ©) (Philippe Decock ©)
 AWACS: Airborne Warning and Control System...    (Philippe Decock ©)

Reports Menu - Homepage