NATO said Friday it plans to deploy three surveillance planes to Romania next week to “monitor Russian military activity” within the 30-member nations’ territory.
The Airborne Warning and Control System surveillance planes, or AWACS, belong to a fleet of 14 usually based in Germany. The three planes will be sent Tuesday to the Romanian capital of Bucharest on a mission expected to last several weeks, NATO said in a statement.
The planes “can detect aircraft hundreds of kilometers away, making them a key capability for NATO’s deterrence and defense posture,” according to NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu.
The Boeing E-3s were jointly purchased at a cost of almost $8 billion in 1977 at the height of the Cold War. Along with a 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 to ensure that they can keep flying until 2035.
Several of these NATO surveillance planes were deployed in the U.S. after 9/11.
Romania, which is just over 3,200 miles from Russia, joined NATO in 2004.
The U.S. 101st Airborne Division, which has been deployed to Europe since World War II, is currently performing military exercises at the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania near the Black Sea, making it closer to the Russian-Ukrainian war than any other U.S. Army unit.