Recognize The E-3 Sentry

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Recognize The E-3 Sentry, an airborne warning and control system aircraft with an integrated command and control battle management surveillance, target detection, and tracking platform.

The Boeing E-3 Sentry, commonly known as AWACS, is an American airborne early warning and control aircraft developed by Boeing.
Wingspan: 44 m
Top speed: 855 km/h
Range: 7,400 km
Unit cost: 270,000,000–270,000,000 USD (1998)
Engine types: Pratt & Whitney JT3D, CFM International CFM56
Manufacturers: Boeing Defense, Space & Security, Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems.


Engineering, test and evaluation began on the first E-3 Sentry in October 1975. In March 1977 the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing (now 552nd Air Control Wing, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.), received the first E-3s.

There are 31 aircraft in the U.S. inventory. Air Combat Command has 27 E-3s at Tinker. Pacific Air Forces has four E-3 Sentries at Kadena AB, Japan and Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.

NATO has 17 E-3A’s and support equipment. The first E-3 was delivered to NATO in January 1982. The United Kingdom has seven E-3s, France has four, and Saudi Arabia has five. Japan has four AWACS built on the Boeing 767 airframe.

As proven in operations Desert Storm, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector the E-3 Sentry is the world’s premier C2BM aircraft. AWACS aircraft and crews were instrumental to the successful completion of operations Northern and Southern Watch, and are still engaged in operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom. They provide radar surveillance and control in addition to providing senior leadership with time-critical information on the actions of enemy forces. The E-3 has also deployed to support humanitarian relief operations in the U.S. following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, coordinating rescue efforts between military and civilian authorities.

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The data collection capability of the E-3 radar and computer subsystems allowed an entire air war to be recorded for the first time in the history of aerial warfare.

In March 1996, the Air Force activated the 513th Air Control Group, an AWACS Reserve Associate Program unit which performs duties on active-duty aircraft.

During the spring of 1999, the first AWACS aircraft went through the Radar System Improvement Program. RSIP is a joint U.S./NATO development program that involved a major hardware and software intensive modification to the existing radar system. Installation of RSIP enhanced the operational capability of the E-3 radar electronic counter-measures and has improved the system’s reliability, maintainability and availability.

The AWACS modernization program, Block 40/45, is currently underway. Bock 40/45 represents a revolutionary change for AWACS and worldwide Joint Command and Control, Battle Management, and Wide Area Surveillance. It is the most significant counter-air battle management improvement in Combat Air Forces tactical Command and Control history. The Block 40/45 Mission Computer and Display upgrade replaces current 1970 vintage mission computing and displays with a true open system and commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software, giving AWACS crews the modern computing tools needed to perform, and vastly improve mission capability. Estimated fleet upgrades completion in 2020.

General characteristics
Primary function: airborne battle management, command and control
Contractor: Boeing Aerospace Co.
Power plant: four Pratt and Whitney TF33-PW-100A turbofan engines
Thrust: 20,500 pounds each engine at sea level
Rotodome: 30 feet in diameter (9.1 meters), 6 feet thick (1.8 meters), mounted 11 feet (3.33 meters) above fuselage
Wingspan: 145 feet, 9 inches (44.4 meters)
Length: 152 feet, 11 inches (46.6 meters)
Height: 41 feet, 9 inches (13 meters)
Weight: 205,000 pounds (zero fuel) (92,986 kilograms) Maximum Takeoff Weight: 325,000 pounds (147,418 kilograms) Fuel Capacity: 21,000 gallons (79,494 liters)
Speed: optimum cruise 360 mph (Mach 0.48)
Range: more than 5,000 nautical miles (9,250 kilometers)
Ceiling: Above 29,000 feet (8,788 meters)
Crew: flight crew of four plus mission crew of 13-19 specialists (mission crew size varies according to mission) Unit Cost: $270 million (fiscal 98 constant dollars) Initial operating capability: April 1978
Inventory: active force, 32 (one test); Reserve, 0; Guard, 0

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(Current as of September 2015)