Germany has agreed, in principle, to send about 300 military personnel to man Nato’s airborne warning and control system (AWACS) missions over Afghanistan.

The initiative will support Nato’s plan to send three or four AWACS aircraft for monitoring air traffic in Afghanistan as a part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) missions in the country.

The surveillance aircraft will provide aerial radar monitoring over areas where ground monitoring is not possible on this ISAF mission expected to last until 13 December 2009.

The German Defence Ministry has stated that the aircraft cannot be used to identify ground targets and carry out air strikes. But it will direct combat operations through its real-time imaging capability.

The multinational Nato AWACS component based in Germany operates 17 E-3As and three Boeing 707 trainer / transport aircraft.