The use of E-3A aircraft for airspace surveillance and control has become an important part of national and international efforts to ensure the safety and security of political summits and other strategic world leadership events. This year the NATO AWACS also provided airspace security in April for the NATO Summit in Strasbourg, France, and again in July for the G-8 Summit held at L'Aquila in Italy.
The E-3A aircraft, a modified Boeing 707, is equipped with radar capable of detecting air traffic over large distances and at all altitudes. One E-3A operating at 30,000 feet generates an air picture of aircraft movements from high to low altitude within a radius of 400 km or 215 nautical miles.
The NAEW&C Force is composed of two Components: the NATO flagged E-3A Component at Geilenkirchen, Germany, which has a fleet of 17 aircraft and multinational crews from 14 NATO nations, and the E-3D Component at Waddington, whose seven aircraft and crews are British.