NATO jets to go on patrol over U.S. for first time
BY ROB MARTINDALE
Oct 11, 2001
MIDWEST CITY -- Five highly developed radar-equipped
aircraft from NATO have been deployed to Tinker Air Force
Base to fly homeland safety missions, it was announced
The NATO support comes in the wake of the terrorist
bombings on the East Coast and while the United States is
engaged in military action in Afghanistan.
The AWACS airplanes, which are modified Boeing 707s with
rotating, saucer-like radar domes on their tops, have a
radar range of greater than 250 miles and can detect
friendly or enemy aircraft from the Earth's surface to the
stratosphere, said Capt. Steve Rolenc, Tinker's public
Rolenc said this marks the first time NATO airplanes
have been used to fly air patrols over the United States.
The planes arrived Tuesday at Tinker from a base in
In addition to the United States, Rolenc said 11 other
nations sent air crew and support personnel to Tinker for
the mission. Participating countries are Belgium, Canada,
Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway,
Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United States.
``This is an unprecedented event. It has never happened
before . . . where NATO is coming to the United States to
fight this war against terrorism,'' Rolenc said of
Operation Noble Eagle.
The 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker is the only AWACS
base in the continental United States, he said, and has a
history of training with NATO.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, known as
NORAD, has control over defense of U.S. and Canadian air
space, and the AWACS will bolster that effort, Rolenc
The 552nd, he said, has been conducting the operations
with AWACS -- or Airborne Warning and Control System --
aircraft since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon.
The AWACS airplanes also have had missions over Bosnia,
the Balkans and Iraq.
Rob Martindale, World senior writer, can be reached at
581-8367 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.