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The weapons team is headed by the Fighter Allocator (FA) who is responsible for the safe conduct of all aircraft, which have been allocated to the E-3A to control. His two Weapons Controllers (WCs) can control a wide variety of air missions including Offensive and Defensive Counter Air operations using fighters, Close Air Support and Battlefield Air Interdiction using bombers and a wide variety of operational support aircraft.
E-3 SENTRY (AWACS)
The E-3 Sentry is an airborne warning and control system, or AWACS, aircraft with an integrated command and control battle management, or C2BM, surveillance, target detection, and tracking platform. The aircraft provides an accurate, real-time picture of the battlespace to the JointAirOperationsCenter. AWACS provides situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity, command and control of an area of responsibility, battle management of theater forces, all-altitude and all-weather surveillance of the battle space, and early warning of enemy actions during joint, allied, and coalition operations.
The E-3 Sentry is a modified Boeing 707/320 commercial airframe with a rotating radar dome. The dome is 30 feet (9.1 meters) in diameter, six feet (1.8 meters) thick, and is held 11 feet (3.33 meters) above the fuselage by two struts. It contains a radar subsystem that permits surveillance from the Earth's surface up into the stratosphere, over land or water. The radar has a range of more than 250 miles (375.5 kilometers). The radar combined with an identification friend or foe, or IFF, subsystem can look down to detect, identify and track enemy and friendly low-flying aircraft by eliminating ground clutter returns that confuse other radar systems.
Major subsystems in the E-3 are avionic, navigation, communications, sensors (radar and passive dectection) and identification tools (IFF/SIF). The mission suite includes consoles that display computer-processed data in graphic and tabular format on video screens. Mission crew members perform surveillance, identification, weapons control, battle management and communications functions.
The radar and computer subsystems on the E-3 Sentry can gather and present broad and detailed battlefield information. This includes position and tracking information on enemy aircraft and ships, and location and status of friendly aircraft and naval vessels. The information can be sent to major command and control centers in rear areas or aboard ships. In time of crisis, this data can also be forwarded to the president and secretary of defense in the United States.
In support of air-to-ground operations, the Sentry can provide direct information needed for interdiction, reconnaissance, airlift and close-air support for friendly ground forces. It can also provide information for commanders of air operations to gain and maintain control of the air battle.
As an air defense system, E-3s can detect, identify and track airborne enemy forces far from the boundaries of the United States or NATO countries. It can direct fighter-interceptor aircraft to these enemy targets. Experience has proven that the E-3 Sentry can respond quickly and effectively to a crisis and support worldwide military deployment operations.
AWACS may be employed alone or horizontally integrated in combination with other C2BM and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance elements of the Ground Theater Air Control System. It supports decentralized execution of the air tasking order/air combat order. The system provides the ability to find, fix, track and target airborne or maritime threats and to detect, locate and ID emitters. It has the ability to detect threats and control assets below and beyond the coverage of ground-based command and control or C2, and can exchange data with other C2 systems and shooters via datalinks.
With its mobility as an airborne warning and control system, the Sentry has a greater chance of surviving in warfare than a fixed, ground-based radar system. Among other things, the flight path can quickly be changed according to mission and survival requirements. The E-3 can fly a mission profile approximately 8 hours without refueling. Its range and on-station time can be increased through in-flight refueling and the use of an on-board crew rest area.
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 33 aircraft in the U.S. inventory. Air Combat Command has 28 E-3s at Tinker. Pacific Air Forces has four E-3 Sentries at KadenaAB, Japan and Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. There is also one test aircraft at the Boeing Aircraft Company in Seattle.
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 housed on the Boeing 767 airframe.
As proven in operationsDesert Storm, Allied Force, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the E-3 Sentry is the premier C2BM aircraft in the world. 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 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.
Primary Function: Airborne battle management, command and control
Contractor: Boeing Aerospace Co.
Power Plant: Four Pratt and Whitney TF33-PW-100A turbofan engines
Thrust: 21,000 pounds each engine
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: 335,000 pounds (151,955 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 347,000 pounds (156,150 kilograms)
Fuel Capacity: 23,000 gallons (104,560 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, 33 (1 test); Reserve, 0; Guard, 0