The Latvian Defense Ministry announced October 10 the E-3A would be landing at Riga International Airport, its distinctive circular snooping array providing a novel sight to airport visitors.
The NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control (NAEW&C) Force, based in Geilenkirchen, Germany on Wednesday, October 5th, flew its 1000th flight in support of what NATO calls its "Assurance Measures."
"As a unique military tool we have sent a very strong signal of NATO’s presence and reliability, especially to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Romania,” said NATO E-3A Commander, Brigadier General Karsten Stoye ahead of the flight to the Baltics.
"Despite future missions in the south, we will be a consistent partner for these countries. We will go on with our surveillance flights and we will be constantly present,” he added.
"NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control System aircraft are a vital element of the NATO Assurance Measures. The NATO E-3A AWACS provides the Alliance with an immediately available airborne command and control, air and maritime surveillance and battle-space management capability in support of our Alliance's deterrence mission," said General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Supreme Allied Commander Europe in a NATO press release.
Assurance Measures sorties are flown to conduct air surveillance and to provide assurance to nations on NATO’s Eastern Flank.
17 NATO member nations participate in the AWACS programme: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Fifteen of these nations provide military personnel to the E-3A Component (the UK flies its own E-3D aircraft, and Luxembourg does not provide military personnel).
You can find out more about AWACS and even take a virtual tour one of the planes HERE.