Canada to rejoin NATO’s AWACS programme
Canada is to rejoin NATO's Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) programme, the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) announced on 14 February.
In 2011, Canada decided to withdraw from the AWACS programme following the DND’s 2010 strategic review.
NATO has significantly increased the use of AWACS for joint ISR operations, including in Central and Eastern Europe where Canada is leading a multinational NATO battlegroup based in Latvia.
The programme was established in 1978 and consists of sixteen NATO-owned E-3A aircraft that gives the alliance the ability to conduct long-range aerial surveillance, and to command and control forces from the air. The E-3A operates at an altitude of around 10km and is able to monitor the airspace within a radius of more than 400km. The aircraft exchanges information – via digital data links – with ground-based, sea-based and airborne commanders.
By using pulse Doppler radar, an E-3A flying within NATO airspace can distinguish between targets and ground reflections and is therefore able to give early warning of low- or high-flying aircraft operating over the territory of a potential aggressor.
Harjit S. Sajjan, Canadian Defence Minister, said: ‘NATO is a cornerstone of Canada’s international security policy, and is one of our most important multilateral relationships. In that spirit, Canada has decided to rejoin NATO’s AWACS.
‘AWACS is a key NATO capability that we will support by contributing to its operations and support budget. We have committed to keeping Canada engaged in the world, and continuing to commit ourselves to NATO and its missions are important steps toward that goal.’
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