Last NATO AWACS returns home from Afghanistan to Geilenkirchen Airbase in Germany (Image © NATO)

New runway welcomes last AWACS from Afghanistan

Last NATO AWACS returns home from Afghanistan to Geilenkirchen Airbase in Germany (Image © NATO)
Last NATO AWACS returns home from Afghanistan to Geilenkirchen Airbase in Germany (Image © NATO)

What is a better welcome for an aircrew than a fresh, brand new runway at their homebase? It’s exactly what awaited the crew of a NATO E-3A Component Boeing AWACS crew as they returned to their base in Geilenkirchen, Germany, after their unit’s final tour at Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.

The men and women of the NATO E-3A Component flew 1,240 missions and 12,240 flying hours over Afghanistan over the last three years, providing air surveillance, tactical battle management functions such as support and control of friendly aircraft involved in offensive and defensive counter air operations, close air support, battlefield air interdiction, combat search and rescue, reconnaissance, and tactical air transport.

NATO’s AWACS aircraft are now no longer needed over Afghanistan, as the new Resolute Support Mission that stands-up on 1 January 2015 will focus on training and advisory tasks. Air traffic control for military aircraft over Afghan airspace will be managed by the Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) in Al Udeid, Qatar, coordinated with the responsible civilian air traffic authorities.

As said, the final E-3A Sentry returning from Afghanistan, touched on Geilenkirchen’s brand new runway. The old one dated from the eighties. The 3,048 metre (1.9 mile) runway top layer was removed and replaced with 125,000 tons of asphalt and 3.7 miles (6 kilometres) of drainage. This huge task was completed in an astonishing eleven days.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest