Home of the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force Command’s E-3A Component, NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen is located four kilometers west of Geilenkirchen, the Federal Republic of Germany, adjacent to the Netherlands border.
The Component’s Main Operating Base (MOB) was handed over to NATO from the host nation on 31 March 1982.
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 (or Flugplatz Teveren by the local population), the British used the facilities as a fighter installation for various RAF fighter squadrons from May 1953 until January 1968.
Flying operations at Geilenkirchen ended in January 1968 and the installation was handed over to the German Air Force in March 1968. In August that same year, it became the home of the German Surface-to-Surface Missile Wing Number 2 equipped with Pershing missiles and supported by the U.S. Army’s 85th Field Artillery Detachment.
After the decision to make the base the E-3A Component MOB, a major construction programme began in 1980 to modify operational and support facilities to accommodate the E-3A unit. Since then, the majority of the buildings on base have been renovated to present day standards and numerous new buildings have been erected.
Major construction on base, that covers 620 hectares/1,530 acres, included a new 3,4 kilometer/10,000 feet runway that is 45 meters/150 feet wide, aprons and taxiways, a control tower, the Information Technology Wing building (which also houses the flight and mission simulator facilities), on base housing and major renovations to the four existing hangars.
In January 1980 the first Component personnel started arriving at the base. By the end of 1981, the German Pershing Wing had left the base and moved to Niederheid, north of Geilenkirchen while the U.S.Army’s 85th Detachment remained on base until being de-activated in July 1991.