BUCHAREST, ROMANIA (AP) — NATO plans to deploy three reconnaissance planes to Romania next week to carry out reconnaissance missions on Friday and “monitor Russian military activity” within the territory of the 30-nation military alliance. announced.
Airborne Warning and Control System Surveillance Aircraft (AWACS) belong to a fleet of 14 aircraft, usually based in Germany. Three of the planes were sent to an air force base near the Romanian capital Bucharest on Tuesday for a mission expected to last several weeks, the alliance of 30 nations said in a statement.
The aircraft “can detect aircraft hundreds of kilometers away, making it a critical feature of NATO’s deterrence and defense posture,” NATO spokesman Oana Lungescu said in a statement.
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Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, NATO has strengthened its presence on Europe’s eastern flank, including sending additional battle groups to Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia.
Throughout the Russian-Ukrainian war, AWACS conducted “regular patrols in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region to track Russian fighters near NATO borders,” the statement said.
The Boeing E-3, a NATO aircraft, was jointly purchased at a cost of nearly $8 billion in 1977, at the height of the Cold War, when Jimmy Carter became president of the United States and the missile crisis with the Soviet Union began to worsen in Europe. Purchased. .
Along with Italy’s small drone fleet, the plane is one of the few military assets NATO has as an alliance. It is regularly refurbished so that it can continue to fly until 2035.
Some planes were deployed in US skies 24 hours after the September 11, 2001 attacks to protect cities and nuclear power plants. Beyond their role as NATO’s eyes in the sky, planes can be used for air patrol, counter-terrorism and evacuation support, and assistance during natural disasters.