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Geilenkirchen Open Day

Open Day 2012 On 24 February 1982 the first E-3A AWACS aircraft landed at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, marking the start of a new era in airspace surveillance. Since that time, these aircraft with their distinctive radar dish have flown countless missions from the base.

The E-3A Component is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a Jubilee event on 16 and 17 June 2012. This will be a very special occasion emphasizing the cultural aspects of the 17 NATO nations participating in the NATO AWACS programme.

This Jubilee event will feature an 8,000 square metre display area in one of our hangars, a wide-ranging programme of international entertainment with music and dance performances from various NATO nations and the local tri-border area. All of this will enable visitors to experience the diversity of the various cultures represented at the E-3A Component. It will be an outstanding festival with exclusive performances and cultural specialities. For aviation enthusiasts and other visitors three E-3 AWACS aircraft will be available for walk-through tours, and a large number of other aircraft will also be on display on the flight line.

Before the Open Day, several aircraft arrived on a rainy Friday 15th. During the day the weather improved and some sun became visible through the clouds.

All photo's:
G.J.A. van Boven
H.P.A.M van Eupen
© Sentry Aviation News

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Several older and civil aircraft appeared on the static show, like a Messerschmidt 109, Messerschmidt 262, OV-10 Bronco, De Havilland Beaver

On Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th, there was no flying display during the Open Days, due to noise restrictions for the neighborhood. On the ground, the participating countries had country demonstrations and country food and drinks could be bought. In a long cermony starting at noon, all participating countries showed up at the main stand with their national flag. On the photo, the polish flag is delivered to the main stand.

NATO Airbase Geilenkirchen (ICAO code ETNG) in Germany is the Main Operating Base (MOB) of the NATO Boeing E-3A AWCS aircraft. These surveillance aircraft belong to the multinational NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force. After the 2nd World War, the base was used by the Royal Air Force until the end of the 1960's. Following NATO's decision to establish the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force program and to make the base near Teveren the Main Operating Base (MOB) of the E-3A Component, a major construction program was started in 1980 to modify the operational and support facilities. A 3 kilometer long runway, a new control tower, large hangars and other buildings were created to.

In January 1980 the first E-3A Component personnel started arriving at the base, and in October 1980 the NATO Defence Planning Committee (DPC) granted the E-3A Component the status of a NATO International Military Headquarters. 18 E-3A AWACS aircraft were delivered and 1 E-3A was written-off after it ran off the runway of an airbase in Greece. 3 additional Boeing 707 aircraft (in the same configuration, but configured as freighter) were used until 2011 until these aircraft were replaces by a leased Airbus.

During the years, the NATO E-3 aircraft were supporting several oprations: over former Yugoslavia, over Afghanistan, over Lybia and many other operations. Some 17 countries can be found on Geilenkirchen airbase, giving the base a great mix of multinational cooperation.

Credits Geilenkirchen Open Days

Thanks to Geilenkirchen PAO, capt Ter Horst.

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