Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany
NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force E-3A Component is stationed at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany. The unit includes 3,000 military members and NATO civilians representing 13 nations of NATO as they fulfill the mission tasking of the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic. The E-3A component is NATO's only operational unit.
Geilenkirchen is the home of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Airborne Early Warning Force Command's E-3A Component. The Component's mission is to provide aircraft and trained aircrews to deliver a surveillance and/or control platform wherever and whenever directed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Airborne Early Warning Force Commander on behalf of the three major North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Commanders: the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT) and Commander-in-Chief, Channel (CINCHAN).
The NATO Airborne Early Warning Force (NAEWF) was created in January 1980. The command was granted full status as a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Headquarters by North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Defense Planning Committee on l7 October l980. It is co-located with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Belgium. Executive agent for the program is the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), also one of the Command's primary "customers". The remaining two are the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) and the Allied Commander-in-Chief Channel (CINCHAN).
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization E-3A aircraft are flown by integrated multinational crews from 11 nations - Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Turkey and the United States. Geilenkirchen is the E-3A Component's main operating base in addition to being NATO's only multinational operational flying unit.
Surrounded by farmland and a natural woodland preserve, the base was originally built by the British Royal Air Force after World War II. Known as RAF Geilenkirchen (known locally as Flugplatz Teveren after the neighboring village), the British used the facilities as a fighter installation for various RAF fighter squadrons from May 1953 until January 1968. Meteors, F-86 Sabres, Swift Fighter Recces, Hunter day-fighters, and Javelins all operated out of Geilenkirchen. Eventually, Javelin FAW (Fighter Air Wing) Mk 4 & 5 of No. 11 Squadron were replaced by Javelin FAW Mk 9s and joined by a second Squadron of Javelin Mk 9s - No. 5(AC) Squadron. In the same period, the aerodrome was home to Canberra MkB(I)8's of No. 59 Squadron and was later renumbered as No. 3 Squadron.
NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen is located in Teveren which is four kilometers west of Geilenkirchen, adjacent to the Netherlands border. Geilenkirchen is 283 miles from Paris,France, 50 miles from Cologne (Koln), Germany and 142 miles from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. NATO AB Geilenkirchen is located 104 miles from Brussels Airport in Brussels, Belgium. Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT), located in Brunssum, the Netherlands, is a fifteen minute drive from Geilenkirchen, and Schinnen, 254th Base Support Battalion, the Netherlands is located approximately 25 minutes from Geilenkirchen. Geilenkirchen is a small town with a population of about 26,000 people. A moated castle stands in the village. The center of town offers a variety of shopping stores. Depending on the exchange rates, shopping in the centrum can be very expensive. Twice a week there is an outdoor market in the centrum that sells food and flowers.
E-3B airborne warning and control system aircraft from Tinker AFB, OK, flown by an AWACS crew from the Reserve's 513th Air Control Group, operate out of Geilenkirchen to support NATO exercises.
Crews and aircraft from the 141st Air National Guard deploy to Geilenkirchen to provide aerial refueling support for NATO airborne warning and control system aircraft throughout the European theater. The Washington Air National Guard supports this mission once or twice a year as needed.
A Washington Air National Guard KC-135 tanker assigned to 141st Air Refueling Wing here crashed 13 January 1999 while landing at Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany. The four crewmembers on board were killed. The aircraft was on a routine refueling mission as part of a NATO exercise when it crashed. The 141st ARW deployed 29 people and two aircraft to Geilenkirchen to participate in a normal rotation supporting the NATO mission. They left 03 January 1999 and were scheduled to return 15 January 1999. The accident investigation board concluded the aircraft's pitch up to a near vertical attitude and subsequent stall during a landing attempt were the cause of the crash. The pitch up was the direct result of the horizontal stabilizer trim being in a 7.5 nose-up trim condition when the aircraft was given power to complete a go around prior to landing. The investigation was unable to determine how the stabilizer trim came to be in the 7.5 nose up trim condition.