NATO is expected to approve the use of AWACS aircraft to assist the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group, the alliance’s secretary-general said Monday.
On Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance will decide during its upcoming summit that its AWACS aircraft will “provide information” to the US-led coalition targeting Islamic State positions in Iraq and Syria.
The Boeing E-3 Sentry, commonly known as AWACS, is an airborne early warning and control aircraft developed by Boeing and derived from the Boeing 707. The aircraft provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications.
The E-3 is used by the United States Air Force, Royal Air Force, French Air Force, and Royal Saudi Air Force. NATO also has a fleet of the aircraft.
The NATO fleet is based in Geilenkirchen, Germany, 18 E-3 AWACS were purchased – one lost in Greece. All of these aircraft are officially registered as aircraft of Luxembourg, a NATO member with no other air force. They are responsible for monitoring airspace for NATO operations around the world.
The E-3 is distinguished by the distinctive rotating radar dome above the fuselage. Production ended in 1992 after 68 aircraft had been built.
Stoltenberg was outlining the agenda of the two-day summit, which will open in the Polish capital Warsaw, on Friday.
Officials have said the AWACS planes would use Turkish or international skies but they would be capable of “peering electronically” into IS-held areas in Iraq and Syria.
The alliance is not involved in the military campaign directly but a number of alliance members such as the US, France and the UK have been carrying out airstrikes against targets in Iraq and Syria since 2014.