2001 Geilenkirchen operational
Geilenkirchen air base is the NATO E3A AWACS base since 1980. All AWACS'es guarding our borders are based on Geilenkirchen - most of the time they are flying long range missions out of their homebase for patrols along the NATO borders. The NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (NAEW&CF) has a total of 17 E3A Awacs aircraft. All NATO participants supply crews flying the aircraft and operating the systems. An AWACS can survey and control an area with radius of 400km around it. It has also a mode to detect and track ships. Besides the survey mode it also has enough systems to direct all military aircraft around it operating a wide scale of missions - from Air-to-Air Refueling to CAP and CSAR missions.
Until 2011 the NAEW&CF operated three B707TCA's - which were used for E3A aircrew training and cargo support. I visited Geilenkirchen several times but 2001 was the only time I took photographs, miraculously just of one of these B707's (with old model, smoking engines!) and the well known A310 10+21 in old Luftwaffe c/s.
Geilenkirchen also has a permanent detachment of US KC135 tankers, to support their own and NATO allies in AAR al over Europe. These rotate on a monthly/2-monthly basis. During this specific day the 132nd ARS of the Maine ANG was based here - one can be seen on the overview above.