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NATO to send air support to Winter Olympics

Reuters | February 9 2006

NATO will send two surveillance aircraft to patrol the skies over Turin during the Winter Olympics from February 10 to 26, the alliance said on Wednesday.

The Italian government asked for air support last year, Commander Jose Goyanes said, and the alliance will send two aircraft from the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force to provide extra radar coverage and communications facilities.

The E-3D aircraft to be used are based at Waddington in Britain and will operate from an Italian air base at Aviano during the games.

The radar in the E-3D aircraft provides early warning by detecting, tracking and classifying airborne targets at a distance of up to 360 km (220 miles), NATO said in a statement.

Since 2001, NATO early warning aircraft have provided some 3,000 hours of airborne surveillance over more than 30 events including the funeral of Pope John Paul and the Athens Olympics IN 2004.

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