Link:
The latest news about Maastricht, Geilenkirchen & Liege
Click here to go to the Geilenkirchen Pictures-archive at MST-Aviation
.

.
News:
.
Click here to go to the News archive at the official NATO E-3A Component Website
.

.
June 22th 2009 First 2 Awacs-planes departed to Afghanistan  
June 21th 2009 NATO approves AWACS mission over Afghanistan  
June 17th 2009 NATO AWACS mission over Afghanistan  
May 4th 2009 British awacs-pilot flies WWII Lancaster overhead Brunssum  
January 13th 2009 10 years since a Tanker-plane crashed near the runway at Geilenkirchen AB
January 12th 2009 Awacs-plane makes emergency approach at GK
Aug. 9th till Sept. 5th 2008 Exercise Northern Viking 2008
July 2008 NATO Mid-Term upgrade
June 2nd 2008 E-3A Component participates in Australian exercise
June 2008 TCA flies around the world in 9 days
February 2008 US Ambassador visits E-3A Component
September 2007 Poland jouns AWACS-family
June 16th 17th 2007 25th anniversary of the NATO E-3A Component in Geilenkirchen
April 24th 2007 Repainted NATO E-3A Awacs-plane officially unveiled  
April 12th 2007 Repainted NATO E-3A Awacs-plane arrives at Geilenkirchen Airbase  
April 5th 2007 "Geilenkirchen Info Page" gets new name and URL : www.awacs-spotter.nl  
January 1st 2007 News : 25th Anniversary of the NATO E-3A Component  
June 11th & 12th 2005 International Cultural Festival at Geilenkirchen Airbase  
June 24th & 25th 2000 International Cultural Festival at Geilenkirchen Airbase  
June 2nd 2000 Former President of the USA Bill Clinton lands at Geilenkirchen Airbase  
August 4th 1999 NATO E-3A makes emergency-approach at Geilenkirchen Airbase  
April 4th 1999 NATO 50th Anniversary  
January 13th 1999 KC-135 Tankerplane crashes at Geilenkirchen Airbase  
June 27th 28th 1998 International Cultural Festival at Geilenkirchen Airbase  
July 14th 1996 NATO E-3A crashes at runway in Aktion, Greece  
September 23rd 1995 USAF Awacs-plane crashes at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska
 
     

 

June 22nd 2009
.
First 2 Awacs-planes departed to Afghanistan
.

On Monday June the 22nd 2009 the first 2 awacs-planes departed from the NATO base in Geilenkirchen to complete their missions in Afghanistan. Last week NATO decided to send three or four planes to provide Air Traffic Control overhead Afghanistan, and also Air-support will be provided in combat. The planes will operate from the Forward Operating Base in Konya, Turkey. It's still unknown when the awacs-planes will return from their mission and will be back at Geilenkirchen AB.

 

Photo: Ron Slangen graphX

 
First 2 Awacs-planes departed to Afghanistan

 

June 21st 2009
.
NATO approves AWACS mission over Afghanistan
.

NATO will provide improved air traffic control cover for Afghanistan under a newly approved deployment involving its Boeing E-3A airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft.

Confirmed following a defence ministers' meeting in Brussels from 11-12 June, the action is being taken "in recognition of the significant increase in both civilian and military aircraft over Afghanistan and the lack of a ground-based radar network", NATO says.

Its announcement outlined an "immediate deployment" involving three or four of its 17 E-3As. The surveillance assets are expected to be flown from the alliance fleet's forward operating base at Konya in Turkey.

Photo: Ron Slangen graphX

 
NATO approves AWACS mission over Afghanistan
.

In addition to providing an air traffic control function, the E-3A fleet will be capable of managing airborne strike operations against the Taliban.

Home based at Geilenkirchen in northern Germany, NATO's AWACS force totals almost 1,500 military personnel, including 30 multinational aircrews. Sixteen alliance nations assign personnel to the force, with Romania having joined recently. The Czech Republic will be included soon.


 

June 17th 2009
.
NATO AWACS mission over Afghanistan
.

Berlin

In a first debate Wednesday, most members of Germany's parliament were supportive of up to 300 airmen serving on NATO airborne command posts in the skies over Afghanistan.

About one third of the aircrews, maintenance engineers and other staff working with the NATO planes will be German. The airborne warning and control system (AWACS) planes will mainly supervise military air traffic.

A vote is expected at the start of July following Wednesday's debate. Every deployment of German defence personnel abroad requires parliamentary authorization. Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition has a solid majority.

The planes will be sent from Geilenkirchen air base in Germany to a forward NATO base, probably Konya in Turkey.

NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels decided this month to deploy three or four AWACS planes to Afghanistan.

The plan was approved Wednesday in Merkel's cabinet, which also backed a one-year extension of an existing authorization for about 75 German personnel to serve with UNMIS, a UN peace mission in Sudan.

Click here to view a report (English subtitles)


 

May 4th 2009
.
British awacs-pilot flies WWII AVRO Lancaster
.

On May 4th 2009 a WWII AVRO Lancaster bomber made a fly-past overhead the city of Brunssum. The fly-past was the first of ten Battle or Britain Memorial Flights. Worldwide there are only two Lancaster bombers left in a flyable state. The plane played an important role during the war.

The lancaster with the callsign PA474 was flown by Ed Straw, in normal life a British AWACS pilot. Along with co-piloot Mik Leckey, navigator Garry Simm, border Andy Barlex and cameraman Jack Hawkens, they "kept the memory alive"

 

Click here to view some pictures of this fly-past.

Photos: Ron Slangen graphX

  AVRO Lancaster Bomber

 

January 13th 2009
.
10 years since Tanker crash
.

On the evening of January 13 1999 at 20.39 hours local -exactly 10 years ago-, a Boeing KC-135 (of the American Air National Guard (ANG), tailnumber 91452) crashed on landing, only a few hundred yards from the runway. All four crew members were killed. The crew: Major David Fite, Captain Ken Thiele, Major Matthew Laiho and Technical Sergeant Rich Visintainer.

 

 

 

 

Click here for a report (in Dutch). Source: www.loo-tv.nl

 

 

January 12th 2009
.
Awacs-plane makes emergency approach
.

On January 12th 2009, about 13.25 local an E-3A (LX-N 90443) made an emergency landing at runway 27 at Geilenkirchen Airbase. 20 minutes before the plane was kept in a holding pattern, east of the Airbase. This was probably done to "burn some fuel". This is often the case with emergency approaches. The lighter the plane, the safer the situation will be on the approach and landing. The reason for the emergency landing is still unknown.

The plane approached runway 27 from the east /north-east. A steady crosswind from the south, made this approach spectacular. After a save landing the plane then was directed to the "hammerhead", at the end of runway 27 and shutted down its engines. After 15 minutes of close inspection the plane started its engines again and taxied to its parkingspot.

Click here for some pictures from the approach.

 

 

Aug. 9th till Sept. 5th 2008
.
Exercise Northern Viking 2008
.
In the week from 29 August to 5 September, the E-3A Component participated in ‘Exercise Northern Viking 2008’ at Keflavik International Airport, Iceland. This year’s exercise is the second Northern Viking exercise held in Iceland since the closure of the United States Naval Air Station Keflavik in 2006.

Since 1951, the United States Air Force (USAAF) has been guarding the skies over Iceland, in the light of a defense agreement signed by both countries. In 2006 the USAAF closed the Naval Air Station in Keflavik, but is still committed to the defense of Iceland. Today the Alliance takes care of air policing operations since Iceland doesn’t have military forces itself. During the past two years fighters and intercept controllers from the various nations in the Alliance have been deployed to Iceland on rotation to cover that task.

 
.

Exercise Northern Viking is also a part of this agreement, showing the Icelandic people that NATO is committed to assisting with the defense of Iceland and ensuring their continued peace and security.

More than 450 participants from the Alliance took part in this year’s Northern Viking exercise. This year, the USAAF participated with four F-15 Eagles, three KC-135 Stratotankers and a P-3 Orion, Canada with six CF-18 Hornets, Norway with five F-16 Fighting Falcons and a P-3 Orion, the U.K. with three DA-20 Jet Falcons in the Jammer role, the Royal Danish Navy with 1 Frigate, the Icelandic coast guard with two search and rescue Super Puma helicopters and a freighter ship, and last but not least NATO with two E-3As manned by instructors and students from Training Wing (TW).

The exercise itself was a standard flying exercise with moderate tactical fighter operations, including air-to-air refueling operations, high value air asset and ship defense. The NATO E-3A played a key role in fulfilling all of those tasks. The sorties were flown according to schedule and AWACS delivered a solid product throughout the exercise with a good result.

 
Click here to read information about this subject.
Source: www.e3a.nato.int

 

July 2008  
   
NATO Mid-Term upgrade  
   
Since 1982 the E-3A aircraft have been part of historic NATO operations, flying for peace and security. Looking down from the sky, the E-3A can provide a more complete air picture than ground radar systems.

On 9 July, the last Legacy E-3A, call sign NATO 17, departed for its NATO Mid-Term upgrade in Manching, Germany. During its four-month stay in Manching, EADS Military Air Systems and the Boeing Company in cooperation with the E-3A Component are responsible for the NMT upgrade work. NATO 17 is expected to return to the Component in November this year.

The NMT-upgrade enhances the capabilities of the E 3A fleet as a force multiplier so that it can face the challenges of the coming years. It consists of nine system upgrades, including a digital audio system and additional display consoles. The hallmark of NMT is the new flat-panel display, which provides the crewmembers with improved situational awareness.

Today, thanks to NMT, the Alliance has the most advanced Airborne Early Warning and Control System platform in the world, the NATO E-3A.

..........
.
Click here to view the movie
Source : www.e3a.nato.int

 

June 2nd 2008
.
E-3A Component participates in Australian exercise
.
On Monday 2 June 2008 the NAEW&CF E-3A Component Geilenkirchen deployed aircraft and personnel to Darwin in Australia to participate in Exercise Pitch Black. The Component provided one E-3A (NATO Mid Term) and one TCA to support scheduled operations from Darwin. More than 80 crewmembers from 14 different nations are deploying, supported also by liaison officers, logistic, communication and medical personnel.

Exercise Pitch Black 2008 (PB08) is a major Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) led exercise with Australian Defense Forces (ADF) and international participation. It will be held in northern Australia from 6 through 27 June 2008. In addition to the contribution from NATO itself, the participating nations will include France, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

 
.

There will also be 60 aircraft from the RAAF and participating Forces will deploy to RAAF Base Darwin and RAAF Base Tindal, near Katherine. Fighter, strike, early warning, air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft will combine with selected surface forces and systems to simulate and evaluate operational planning and tactics in war-like conditions.

The overall mission for the E-3A Component is to exercise direct NAEW support of a NATO Partner. Specifically, the E-3A asset will be integrated into the Australian Defense Forces command and control structure for the purpose of this exercise. The E-3A, TCA, and Component members will redeploy on 27 June and return to Geilenkirchen MOB on 1 July.

This NATO AWACS deployment to Exercise Pitch Black is a historic event that symbolizes the E-3A Component’s transformation into a worldwide deployable force. It also represents the increasing level of cooperation and partnership between Australia and the NATO Alliance. We hope this exercise will lead to even more arrangements for training opportunities between Australia and NATO in the future.

The E-3A Component’s mission has evolved from surveillance during the Cold War era to air battle management and counter-terrorism operations. In 2001, E-3A aircraft deployed to the U.S. following the 11 September terror attacks. Since then, the E-3A Component has taken on a greater counter-terrorism role for the Alliance by performing air policing missions that protect the airspace over political summits and international events such as the Olympic Games.

The scope of this exercise closely mirrors what the E-3A Component could be tasked to provide for a NATO Reaction Force (NRF) package. This means that the exercise will provide the E-3A Component with opportunities to continue to refine our readiness and NRF processes.

 
Click here to read more information on the official NATO E3A website.
Source: www.e3a.nato.int

 

June 2008  
   
TCA flies around the world in 9 days  
   
As part of the exercise Pitch Black deployment, an E-3A Component Trainer Cargo Aircraft (TCA) conducted the first around-the-world flight by a NATO owned and operated aircraft. On 10 June the TCA landed in Geilenkirchen at 1630, after flying a total of 36,277 km in flights that went from NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen to Iceland, the U.S. state of Washington, Hawaii, Guam, Australia, Indonesia, Diego Garcia, Dubai, and back to the MOB. The TCA flight to Australia, providing logistics support for E-3A operations, included the transport of 50 Component personnel and more than 11.5 tons of cargo, mainly E-3A maintenance equipment.

“Back in 1519 a Portuguese maritime explorer with five ships and 270 men tried to find a westward route to Indonesia. His journey ended up as the first successful attempt in history to circumnavigate the Earth. In 1522, after almost three years and with only 18 men surviving, the first ever around-the-world trip became a reality. Today I am proud to say that all my men survived the very first time a NATO aircraft circumnavigated the world. With this trip the TCA squadron has proved, once again, that NATO Reaction Force (NRF) concept is something realistic,” explains a proud TCA Squadron Commander.

..........
.

Between 2 and 10 June the TCA conducted flights every day, except for one crew rest day in Dubai. The longest flight was 15.5 hours from Hawaii to Darwin, with only a short ‘fuel and go stop’ in Guam.

For the crew, crossing the equator was a special experience that involved the use of symbolism and ritual from the old traditions of sea travel.

“The fact that the TCA went around the world made it very unusual, and it is very rare to cross both the International Date Line and the Equator. Our mission success was in being there to support the E-3A when required. The TCA is a very reliable aircraft and everything worked out as scheduled”, explains one of the TCA flight engineers.

.
Click here to view the movie
Source : www.e3a.nato.int

 

February 2008  
   
US Ambassador visits E-3A Component  
   

The Component, with its 15 member nations, is no stranger to distinguished visitors who come here to have a look at the only multinational military flying unit in the world. On 14 February the E-3A Component hosted the U.S. Ambassador to Germany, William Robert Timken Jr.

The main purpose of the visit was to visit with U.S. troops stationed at the Component and to learn about the E-3A aircraft and mission. Though the visit was short, about two hours in total, it was a great opportunity for the Ambassador to become familiar with the Component. At the Officer’s Club, the Ambassador received a briefing from the Component Commander Brig. Gen. Stephen Schmidt and then spoke to the crowd, praising the strong relationship between Germany and the United States and thanking the troops for their service on behalf of himself and the President of the United States.

Then for the finale, the Ambassador went out to the flightline to get a firsthand look at the E-3A aircraft and the Nato Mid-Term upgrade.

..........
.
Click here to view the movie
Source : www.e3a.nato.int

 

September 2007  
   
Poland joins AWACS-family  
   
On Thursday 6 September a ceremony was held to officially welcome Poland as the newest member of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force.

The E-3A Component is growing again and Poland is the 15th nation to join the E-3A Component in Geilenkirchen, just after Hungary which joined in 2006.

The addition of Poland to the Component is an historic event that highlights the unique nature of AWACS operations at Geilenkirchen AB, the only multinational military flying unit of its kind in the world.

Every day, multinational crews work side by side to fly AWACS aircraft in Europe and around the world, providing air surveillance and control capability to the NATO Alliance.

Among the distinguished visitors were the Mayor of Geilenkirchen and Lt. Gen. Lech Majewski, the assistant to the Chief of General Staff for the Polish Air Force.

..........
.
“Today’s official accession of Poland to the NATO E-3A Component marks another strategic milestone in Alliance security. We recognize and celebrate the importance of this historic event, as Poland becomes the 15th NATO nation to fly with us here at Geilenkirchen. The future of the Alliance, the future of this Force and, ultimately, the future of freedom, rest solely upon commitment. Poland’s national commitment to freedom is embodied in these professional airmen who now join our ranks,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Schmidt, Commander of the E-3A Component.
.
Click here to view the movie
Source : www.e3a.nato.int

 

June 16th & 17th 2007

NATO AWACS 25th Anniversary

25 Years NATO E-3A Component
 
Click here for some pictures
 
 
 
 
 
 
Click here to read the NATO News-reease June 2007
 
Click here to read more information about the 25 th anniversary on the official NATO E3A website.
Source: www.e3a.nato.int

 

April 24th 2007
 
Repainted Awacs officially unveiled
 

On April 24th 2007 , to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the NATO E-3A Component at NATO AB Geilenkirchen, the German Minister of the Interior of North Rhine-Westphalia , Dr. Ingo Wolf and the E-3A Component Commander , Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Schmidt unveiled the aircraft decorated with 25th anniversary artwork. Both , the Minister Dr Wolf and Commander Brig. Gen. Schmidt signed under the official coat of arms of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which was affixed to the anniversary aircraft after the ceremony.

In presenting the coat of arms, he expressed the state government’s appreciation, saying “We are very glad to have been able to give the E-3A Component a home in North Rhine-Westphalia for the past 25 years. In addition to the importance of its mission in the field of security policy, the Component provides a unique example of an ongoing spirit of international understanding and integration in North Rhine-Westphalia”, declared Dr. Wolf.

General Schmidt emphasized the significance of the Component’s multinationality and mission: “The E-3A Component flew its first mission from Geilenkirchen Air Base on March 23rd, 1982. (Click here to read the official report)

Source: http://www.mst-aviation.nl/portal/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=5993

 
 

 

April 12th 2007
 
Repainted NATO E-3A Awacs-plane arrives at Geilenkirchen Airbase
 

On April 12th 2007, The repainted NATO E-3A Awacs arrived at GK. The aircraft came from Italy, where it actually was repainted, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the NATO E-3A Component in Geilenkirchen (Main Operating Base). The arrival was set at 16.30 Local, but some 40 minutes earlier I spotted the E-3A right above GK, at about 15.000 feet. (Picture Right)

At about 16.00 it came flying in from the North, and crossed the runway at about 3000 feet.

Then at about 16.07 NATO 01 was approaching GK, and was handed over from Maastricht (EHBK) GCA to Frisbee GCA, and reported to do an overshoot at 150 feet, with gear up, a spectacular view! Some 8 minutes later it made it's second TACAN approach. This time an overshoot at 150 feet with the gear lowered. After this second approach, the E-3A approached runway 09 for the third time at 16.27, this time for a full stop. After rollout it switched to GK Tower and taxied to it's parkingspot.

 
The very first photo of the repainted E-3A
.
Click here to view pictures of this approach
 

Newsflash: (In German)

Ein Blick auf die «geheime» Maschine

Click here to read the topic (in German)
 
Ein Blick auf die «geheime» Maschine (In German)

.

 
Source:Mst-aviation.nl http://www.mst-aviation.nl/portal/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=5873&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=20

 

April 5th 2007
 
"Geilenkirchen Info Page" gets new name and URL : www.awacs-spotter.nl
 

Due to the large numbers of visitors worldwide, i decided to renew the "old" and well known "Geilenkirchen Info Page". I also changed the URL to : www.awacs-spotter.nl . This new website will provide more specific and acurate information about the Geilenkirchen Air- base. At the same time, the webpage will get a more modern look, with more up-to-date graphics and photo-material.

.

Lay-out of the "old" Geilenkirchen Information Page


 

 

January 1st 2007
 
News : 25th Anniversary of the NATO E-3A Component
 

The year 2007 marks the 25th Anniversary of the NATO E-3A Component Main Operating Base (MOB) located at Geilenkirchen, Germany. From its earliest days, MOB Geilenkirchen has played a unique role in supporting NATO’s mission of safeguarding security and freedom.

The concept was born in 1978 when NATO undertook plans to establish an Airborne Early Warning and Control Force. It would be four years later, however, before the concept reached reality, with the first AWACS aircraft arriving at MOB Geilenkirchen on 24 February 1982. During a ceremony on 28 June of that same year, NATO officially assumed operational control of the base from Germany.

 
A repainted E3a
 

Four other operating locations were established in the years that followed MOB Geilenkirchen’s activation: Konya, Turkey (October 1983); Oerland, Norway (November 1983); Trapani, Italy (January 1986); and Aktion, Greece (March 1986). A sister base to MOB Geilenkirchen also operates the E-3D aircraft at Waddington, England. Both Components report to Force Command, the NAEW&C headquarters co-located with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) at Mons, Belgium.

The current fleet based at MOB Geilenkirchen consists of 17 E-3A AWACS and three Boeing 707 Training and Cargo Aircraft. The U.S. Air National Guard provides tanker support. Fourteen of NATO's 26 nations contribute operational resources to the E-3A Component, including hundreds of military and civilian personnel from 12 of those nations. Poland will join the E-3A Component in 2007.

With more than 3,100 military and civilian personnel, MOB Geilenkirchen is one of the largest employers in the region. Personnel reside in more than 90 different communities in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium. These individuals and their families form an important bond with the local community and contribute significantly to the economy of the Tri-Border region.

Originally designed to improve allied air defense against the Warsaw Pact, the role of NATO AWACS began changing in the 1990’s, evolving into a more expansive, complex set of operational missions. Its primary role remains unchanged, but today’s NATO AWACS missions also include command and control, airspace management, close air support, combat search and rescue, maritime support and consequence management.

The E-3A Component now supports a wide range of operations. Following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, NATO invoked the “mutual defense” clause of its founding charter for the first time in history. The resulting operation was known as "Eagle Assist" in which NATO AWACS deployed to the U.S. Less than two years later, Turkey requested NATO help in response to the threat posed by the war in Iraq. NATO AWACS again deployed as part of Operation Crescent Guard, providing additional surveillance support.

The Component has also provided security support to events around the world, including 24-hour surveillance of the 2004 Olympics in Greece and the 2006 World Cup Soccer Tournament in Germany. In response to this changing global climate, the Component now maintains a permanently available multinational force, capable of swift response to any threat around the globe as part of the NATO Response Force (NRF), which reached full operational status as of 1 October 2006. Further improvements to meet the needs of our changing global environment will be recognized in the coming years as NATO’s modernization program upgrades the entire AWACS fleet.

A celebration marking the 25th Anniversary of the NATO E-3A Component Main Operating Base Geilenkirchen will take place 16 - 17 June 2007, with aircraft displays and exhibits from participating NATO nations. Come celebrate this historical event and learn more about NATO AWACS.

Source : http://www.e3a.nato.int

 

 

 

June 11th & 12th 2005

International Cultural Festival 2005 at Geilenkirchen Airbase

 
 
 
 
Click here for some pictures
 

 

 

June 24th & 25th 2000

International Cultural Festival 2000 at Geilenkirchen Airbase

 
 
Click here for some pictures
 

 

 

June 2nd 2000

Former President of the USA Bill Clinton lands at Geilenkirchen Airbase

 
Due to a visit at Germany, former president of the United States of America landed with his planes at Geilenkirchen Airbase at June 2nd 2000. Bill Clinton is to receive the prestigious Charlemagne Prize for services to European unity and peace, and will join 14 world leaders at a conference on reconciling center-left values with global competition.
 
Click here to view pictures of the arrival of Bill Clinton
 
See also : http://www.sentry.hangar1.net/trip00-04.html

 

 

August 4th 1999

NATO E-3A makes emergency-approach at Geilenkirchen Airbase

 
 
 
Click here to read the article

 

 

April 4th 1999

NATO 50th Anniversary

 
Due to the 50th anniversary of the NATO, an E3-A was repainted
(LX-N 90442)
 
Click here for some pictures of the plane

 

 

January 13th 1999

KC-135 Tankerplane crashes at Geilenkirchen Airbase

 
   
On the evening of January 13 1999 at 20.39 hours local, a Boeing KC-135 (of the American Air National Guard (ANG), tailnumber 91452) crashed on landing, only a few hundred yards from the runway. All four crew members were killed. The crew: Major David Fite, Captain Ken Thiele, Major Matthew Laiho and Technical Sergeant Rich Visintainer.
 
 
 
Click here to read the article

 

 

June 27th 28th 1998

International Cultural Festival 1998 at Geilenkirchen Airbase

Source: www.sentry.hangar1.net
 
 
 
Click here for some pictures at www.sentry.hangar1.net
 

 

July 14th 1996
 
NATO E-3A crashes at runway in Aktion, Greece ...... Aircraft 457 before the crash
 
 
Water and crash damage to a NATO E-3A that ran off the runway at Aktion, Greece, on July 14 is still being assessed. NATO officials in Germany said a recovery team has not yet been able to pull the aircraft from the water, even though its location at the end of the runway restricts operations from the NATO forward operating base. NATO teams are attempting to strip as much equipment from the aircraft as possible before again attempting to pull it out. The aircraft's nose and engines are still in the water, so NATO officials do not yet know if the aircraft can be repaired or if it will be cannibalized. E-3s are difficult to replace since production has ceased. A suspected multiple bird strike caused the crew to abort the takeoff at high speed. The E-3A ran off the runway and along a stone pier projecting into the water before veering to the right. Impact broke the fuselage between the wings and cockpit, but there were no serious injuries.
   
Aircraft 457 before the crash
Click here to view pictures of the crash

 

     
September 23rd 1995    Smoke rises from crashed Awacs-plane
   
USAF Awacs-plane crashes at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska  
   

AWACS plane crashes; at least 22 dead

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska

A huge AWACS battlefield-radar plane carrying U.S. and Canadian military personnel crashed and burned on takeoff Friday, killing at least 22 people. Two others were missing. It was the first crash of an Airborne Warning and Control System plane since the Air Force began using them in 1977. The plane exploded on impact deep in the woods, inaccessible to fire engines. Rescuers had to bulldoze a path to the site, which was marked by a plume of smoke that could be seen 30 miles away. The Air Force was notifying families of the dead late Friday afternoon, Maj. Jereon Brown said at news conference at the base, 10 miles north of Anchorage. "Just as he got wheels up, the front left engine started popping and I could see fire shooting out the end," Clay Wallace, an Air National Guard captain who was at Elmendorf Air Force Base, told radio station KENI. "I said, 'Where the hell did he go?' and all of a sudden down he went in a huge fireball." The four-engine E-3 AWACS plane, a $180 million modified Boeing 707 laden with sophisticated radar and other electronic surveillance gear, had set out just after daybreak on a training mission with 22 Americans and two Canadians, the
Air Force said. Wallace said he saw the far left engine catch fire as the plane went down the runway. The plane still tried to take off but couldn't get enough power and crashed about 500 feet from the end of the runway, he said. The plane was laden with 135,000 pounds of fuel, flight maintenance workers said. The Air Force said a board of officers would investigate the cause of the crash. President Clinton, visiting San Diego, issued a statement expressing his condolences. "Their loss reminds us how much we owe those who serve our nations' armed forces," Clinton said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the families, friends and loved ones of those who were killed both in the United States and in Canada."
A string of Air Force crashes had already resulted in 29 deaths this year. Gen. Ronald Fogleman, Air Force chief of staff, assembled a panel of outside experts earlier this year to study the service's safety record. "To my knowledge there have been no safety problems with the (AWACS) fleet, and if there had been we would have grounded the planes and repaired them," said Michael R. Gannon, an Air Force spokesman in Washington. The plane has a rotating radar dome that is used to detect, identify and track aircraft and monitor the field of battle. It is able to screen out ground clutter that confuses other radar systems. In the Persian Gulf War, AWACS planes played a key role in coordinating the allied air offensive. AWACS flew more than 400 missions. An AWACS plane also figured in the April 1994 downing by U.S. fighter planes of two U.S. Army helicopters in northern Iraq. Twenty-six people aboard the helicopters were killed. Last month, the Air Force grounded a number of airmen involved in the tragedy, including three members of the AWACS crew, which was accused of failing to tell the fighter pilots that the helicopters were American. AWACS planes can fly at high speed for more than 11 hours without refueling. The Air Force says it has 34 of the planes in service, although only 29 are flown regularly.

Click here to view pictures of the memorial, taken in 2003 by Jim Lawler

 
Board releases AWACS crash investigation results

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii

An Air Force investigating officer from Headquarters Pacific Air Forces here has determined the Sept. 22 crash of an E-3 Sentry at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, resulted from the aircraft's two left-wing engines ingesting several Canada geese. According to Col. Tom Gresch, the accident investigator, engine number two lost all power and engine number one experienced severe damage after ingesting the geese shortly after takeoff from Elmendorf. The resulting loss of thrust rendered the Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft uncontrollable. After a slow, left climbing turn, the aircraft pitched downward and crashed into a wooded area less than a mile from the runway. Human error on the part of the crew was not a factor, according to Gresch. "The aircrew did everything humanly possible to fly this aircraft out of an unflyable situation ... (They) accomplished their emergency procedures flawlessly," he said. The colonel also ruled out factors such as crew training and proficiency and maintenance. Gresch said the senior controller in the tower had seen a flock of geese near the runway as a C-130 took-off moments before the E-3 crashed. In his accident investigation report, Gresch noted that failure to warn the AWACS crew of the presence of the flock of geese was a contributing factor to the accident. The report also faulted the base's implementation of its Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard program, noting the base's efforts to detect and deter geese were inadequate. Designed to minimize bird-related hazards, the BASH program establishes measures such as flight line patrols, environmental controls and a system of bird hazard alerts.
Since the accident, Elmendorf officials have stepped up bird-control efforts to include increasing flight line patrols and installing sound cannons. September's crash was the first for a U.S. E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft since it entered service in 1977.