AWACS: the NATO spy plane protecting the airspace above Madrid
This aircraft will have the mission of flying over Madrid to detect possible threats within a radius of 400 kilometres.
The NATO summit has attracted many of the main world leaders to Madrid, such as US President Joe Biden and EU chiefs Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen.
Therefore, in order to avoid any incident that could compromise security, the city is going to be shielded. One of the keys to this will be the airspace above the Spanish capital, which will be protected by combat planes and helicopters ready to take off at any time in the face of any alert and, above all, NATO’s AWACS aircraft.
The AWACS is an early warning spy plane equipped with a huge rotary radar capable of monitoring airspace within a radius of 400 kilometres. Its landing and take-off runway will be located at the Torrejón de Ardoz air base.
It is known in full as the Boeing E-3 Sentry (Sentinel) Airborne Warning & Control System. Derived from the Boeing 707 commercial aircraft, its peculiarity is the aforementioned warning system, which has been developed in the US by Boeing itself.
AWACS will detect aerial risks at great distances
According to NATO, AWACS aircraft can “detect, track, identify and report potentially hostile aircraft operating at low altitudes, as well as provide fighter control of allied aircraft”.
In addition, these aircraft also serve to “track and identify maritime contacts, and provide coordination support to allied surface forces.” Therefore, its task will be to fly over Madrid in search of possible threats.
The AWACS is able to fly for eight and a half hours at an altitude of about 10 kilometres. However, it can also refuel mid-flight with the help of the KC-135 air tanker. Its maximum speed is 855 kilometres per hour and it can hold 35 people.
This spy plane is not only used by NATO, but also by the United States Air Force (USAF), the British Royal Air Force, the French Air and Space Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force.