An AWACS aircraft flies over the PGE National Stadium, the venue of the NATO Summit, in Warsaw, Poland July 8, 2016. (Adam Stepien/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS)

Canada rejoins NATO’s AWACS program

Share

Seven years after it withdrew from NATO’s Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) program, Ottawa has decided to rejoin the alliance’s aerial intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance program, Canada’s defence minister announced Wednesday.

The AWACS program was established by the United States in the late 1970s to keep a close watch over the Soviet Union’s military activities around the world. NATO has a fleet of 16 E-3A aircraft, modified Boeing 707s, giving the alliance abilities to conduct long-range aerial surveillance, and to command and control forces from the air.

With its distinctive disc-shaped radar dome mounted on the fuselage a single E-3A can constantly monitor the airspace within a radius of more than 400 kilometres and can relay information from its radar and sensors to ground-based, sea-based and airborne forces.

By using pulse-Doppler radar, an E-3A can find and track low- or high-flying aircraft and is able to give early warning of a potential adversary, which in NATO’s case is increasingly Russia.

The alliance has significantly increased the use of its AWACS operations over the former Warsaw Pact countries in Central and Eastern Europe that are now part of NATO and in the Baltics, where Canada is leading a multinational NATO battlegroup based in Latvia, defence officials said.

An AWACS aircraft accompanied by F-16 Fighting Falcon jets flies over the NATO headquarters during the opening ceremony of a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017. (Kai Pfaffenbach/REUTERS)

While Canada doesn’t own any E-3A aircraft, it has in the past contributed several crews of about 16 people each to operate the aircraft, which have been used by the alliance in its recent operations over Afghanistan and Libya, said retired Gen. Tom Lawson.

In fact, Canada continues to provide crews to a separate U.S.-based AWACS program out of Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, said Lawson who was deputy commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) when the decision was taken to remove Canadian crews from the NATO program in 2011, and chief of defence staff when the last Canadians came home in 2014.

The move to pull out of the NATO’s AWACS program in 2011 was meant to save the Department of National Defence about $90 million at the time, when following the 2008 financial crisis, the Conservative government of the day was looking for ways to slash its spending, Lawson said.

“There was a feeling on the part of the Canadian Armed Forces that the usefulness of the NATO AWACS might have been somewhat limited ironically by the fact that there were 14 or 15 different contributing nations,” Lawson said. “What was happening was when NATO wanted to deploy these things, often some of those nations would withdraw their crews.”

A NATO AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) aircraft approaches to the Air Base number 5 during the Real Thaw 2018 exercise in Monte Real, Portugal February 6, 2018. (Rafael Marchante/REUTERS)

But Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its involvement in supporting pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine in 2014 once again made the NATO’s AWACS program more relevant for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Lawson said.

The decision by the Liberal government signals Canada’s desire to demonstrate an increased support of NATO, likely partly in response to pressure from the Trump administration, Lawson said.

It means that Canadian air crews and their families will be going back to the NATO air base in Geilenkirchen Germany, near the border with the Netherlands, Lawson said.

“Canadians used to be the third largest contributor to the NATO AWACS program, we used to provide four full crews over there and also technicians to work on the aircraft, logisticians to run the program,” Lawson said.

Share
Tagged with: , ,
Posted in International, Politics

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

One comment on “Canada rejoins NATO’s AWACS program
  1. Tim Hanson says:

    This is great news. I served a three year tour at the Software Support Center in “GK” (1988-91) and later worked on the base as a civilian programmer. Wonderful opportunity for the guys posted there and their families. The mission purpose is significantly important to NATO. Tim