On the request of German authorities, the Alliances has deployed its special surveillance aircraft, AWACS, to help guard the Pope’s visit to the World Youth Day in Cologne, 20-21 August.

Pope Benedict XVI will address some 800,000 young Catholics, who are expected to attend the festival, which takes place at different locations every few years. Protecting major events

The AWACS are special aircraft, equipped with a radar dome capable of detecting air traffic at great distances, including low-flying aircraft over all different types of terrain. They can also give directions and relay air-traffic information to friendly aircraft operating in the same area.

In recent years, AWACS have been sent to protect a number of major public events, including the Euro 2004 football championships and the 2004 Athens Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The aircraft were also deployed to survey the airspace over Rome during the funeral ceremonies for Pope John Paul II.