Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

NATO flying surveillance planes to Ukraine border

awacs-AFP.jpg 480 An AWACS plane takes off the NATO Airbase in Geilenkirchen, Germany, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (AP)
Associated Press | Berlin | Posted: March 12, 2014 3:34 pm | Updated: March 12, 2014 4:00 pm

NATO says it has dispatched two surveillance planes to fly over Poland and Romania to monitor the crisis unfolding in neighbouring Ukraine.

The military alliance says two AWAC, or Airborne Warning And Control System, reconnaissance planes took off from its bases in Geilenkirchen, Germany, and Waddington, Britain, on Wednesday morning.

A spokesman for NATO’s operational headquarters Mons, Belgium, said the flights will not leave the air space of its member nations thus not crossing either into Ukrainian or Russian airspace.

“The planes can observe over 300,000 square kilometres (115,000 square miles) and will primarily be looking on air activity and the sea,” Lt. Col. Jay Janzen said, adding that one AWACS aircraft already went on a surveillance mission to Romania on Tuesday and that more missions were being planned. “Our flights will not leave NATO airspace,” Janzen said. “Regardless, we can observe, we can look a very long way.”

Janzen said that one AWAC aircraft already went on a surveillance mission to Romania on Tuesday and that more missions were being planned. NATO’s 28 member states decided Monday to intensify the assessment of the possible threat the Ukrainian crisis poses to the alliance by sending AWACS planes. The decision comes after deployments of U.S. fighter planes to eastern European nations bordering Russia, such as Poland and Lithuania.

“The planes can observe over 300,000 square kilometers (115,000 square miles) and will primarily be looking on air activity and the sea,” Lt. Col. Jay Janzen said, adding that one AWACS aircraft already went on a surveillance mission to Romania on Tuesday and that more missions were being planned. “Our flights will not leave NATO airspace,” Janzen said. “Regardless, we can observe, we can look a very long way.”

Janzen said the flights had already been planned as training missions before NATO’s decision, but more planes will be added to the exercises in the coming days. The plane flying out of the German base to Romania was an E-3A AWACS and the plane leaving Britain for Poland was an E-3B AWACS, Janzen said.

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