AP

NATO surveillance planes temporarily deployed to Romania

Jan 16, 2023, 5:24 PM | Updated: Jan 17, 2023, 7:27 am

A NATO AWACS aircraft lands at the Baza 90 Romanian air force base in Otopeni, Romania, Tuesday, Ja...

A NATO AWACS aircraft lands at the Baza 90 Romanian air force base in Otopeni, Romania, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. Two of three NATO surveillance planes arrived at an air base near Romania's capital Tuesday where they are set to undertake regional reconnaissance missions to "monitor Russian military activity" within the 30-nation military alliance's territory. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Two of three NATO surveillance planes deployed temporarily to Romania have arrived at an air base near Bucharest, from where they will fly missions to monitor Russian military activity near the borders of the 30-nation military alliance.

The Airborne Warning and Control System planes landed at Otopeni air base on Tuesday afternoon, with one more expected later. They are due to be based there for several weeks.

The AWACS aircraft, which NATO refers to as its “eyes in the sky” belong to a fleet of 14 usually based in west Germany. They have large fuselage-mounted radar domes and can detect aircraft hundreds of kilometers away.

Germany’s ambassador to Romania, Peer Gebauer, said on the airfield after the first plane landed that the deployment “underlines our resolve to stay strong in this time of crisis.”

“This AWACS surveillance mission, which is to start today in Romania, is another proof of our resolve — of our commitment to defend every inch of allied territory,” he said.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, NATO has bolstered its presence on Europe’s eastern flank, including by sending additional multinational battlegroups to alliance members Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Slovakia. The AWACS have also performed regular patrols over eastern Europe and the Baltic Sea region to track Russian warplanes near NATO borders.

Sebastien Slavitescu, a NATO expert and former Romanian diplomat, said the AWACS could offer reassurance to countries close to the war, such as Romania, which borders Ukraine.

“The NATO eastern flank is very, very close to a war, a war that we haven’t had (in Europe) since the Second World War,” he said. “These planes or any increased military assistance for Romania in these challenging times in our vicinity are most welcome.”

He added that the AWACS missions send a clear message to Moscow: “We’re watching you, we know what you’re doing.”

Romania, which joined NATO in 2004, has played an increasingly large role in the alliance throughout the war, including hosting a NATO meeting of foreign ministers in Bucharest last November.

The AWACS Boeing E-3s were jointly purchased in 1977 at the height of the Cold War, when Jimmy Carter became U.S. president and as a missile crisis with the Soviet Union was beginning to fester in Europe.

Along with a small drone fleet in Italy, the planes are among the few military assets that NATO owns as an alliance. They’ve been routinely refurbished so they can keep flying until 2035.

Some were deployed in U.S. skies after the September 11, 2001 attacks to help protect cities and nuclear power plants. That was the first time in NATO’s history that it deployed assets to support the defense of one of its members. They can also be used for air-policing, evacuation operations, and provide help during natural disasters.

___

McGrath reported from Sighisoara, Romania; Lorne Cook contributed from Brussels.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image:The headquarters of Live Nation is shown June 29, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California. The Jus...

Associated Press

Government sues Ticketmaster owner and asks court to break up company’s monopoly on live events

The DOJ has accused Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation Entertainment of running an illegal monopoly over live events in America.

2 days ago

Image: Ambulances are seen at the airport where a London-Singapore flight that encountered severe t...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Man dies after turbulence; Iran funerals; Israel media law

A Singapore Airlines flight hit severe turbulence over the Indian Ocean and descended 6,000 feet in a span of about three minutes.

4 days ago

Image: Bruce Nordstrom, left, and Jeannie Nordstrom attend the Nordstrom NYC Flagship Opening Party...

Associated Press

Bruce Nordstrom, who helped grow family-led department store chain, dies at 90

Bruce Nordstrom, a retail executive who helped expand his family's Pacific Northwest chain into an upscale national brand, has died.

5 days ago

Image:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime min...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Netanyahu arrest warrant; Assange can appeal; UK blood scandal

The International Criminal Court said it is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Benjamin Netanyahu.

5 days ago

Image: In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Ebrahim Raisi attends a m...

Associated Press

Iran president and others found dead at helicopter crash site, state media says

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday.

5 days ago

Photo: Shawna Williams, owner of Free Range Cycles, poses outside her shop on May 6, 2024, in Seatt...

Mae Anderson, The Associated Press

Bike shops boomed early in the pandemic. It’s been a bumpy ride for most ever since

For the nation's bicycle shops, the past few years have probably felt like the business version of the Tour de France, with numerous twists and turns testing their endurance.

6 days ago

NATO surveillance planes temporarily deployed to Romania