One NATO E-3A AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) departed NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany and landed around 1 p.m. June 23, for storage in the ‘Boneyard’.
This is the first ever NATO AWACS to be retired. The decision to retire one E-3A was made by the North Atlantic Council in an effort to modernize the fleet and reduce overall manpower costs while prudently managing limited resources.
NATO has planned to modernize 14 of its 17 AWACS, and due to budget restrictions has decided to retire one AWACS aircraft in 2015. No more AWACS have been identified for retirement at this time.
Aircraft from all branches of the Department of Defense, other government agencies and international partners are sent to the Boneyard for storage, preservation, parts reclamation, aircraft regeneration, depot-level maintenance, overflow, and aircraft disposal.
Tucson is the ideal location for the Boneyard due to its dry, temperate climate, which reduces corrosion, and the hard caliche subsoil which supports the weight of over 4,000 aircraft without the need to pave the 2,600 acres where they are parked.