E-3 Sentry AWACS

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Product Type:

Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) Aircraft

Using Service (US):

Air Force (ACC; PACAF)

Program Status:

Upgrades and Sustainment.

Prime Contractor:

The Boeing Co.

The E-3B Sentry (AWACS)

About the E-3 AWACS:

The Boeing The E-3 Sentry is an airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft with an integrated command and control battle management (C2BM) surveillance, target detection, and tracking platform. The aircraft provides the Joint Air Operations Center (JAOC) with a precise, real-time picture of the battlespace. The E-3 is a heavily modified Boeing 707-320B Advanced (commercial airframe). The E-3 is powered by four Pratt & Whitney TF33-PW-100A turbofan engines, each providing 20,500 pounds of thrust.

The E-3 is equipped with a rotating radar dome. The dome is 30 feet (9.1 m) in diameter and 6 feet (1.83 m) thick. Two struts connect the radar dome to the fuselage and hold it 11 feet (3.35 m) above. The dome contains a radar subsystem that permits surveillance from the Earth's surface up into the stratosphere. The radar has a range of more than 250 miles (376 km). The radar combined with an identification friend or foe (IFF) subsystem can detect, identify and track both enemy and friendly low-flying aircraft by eliminating ground clutter returns that confuse other radar systems.

Major subsystems in the E-3 are avionics, navigation, communications, sensors (radar and passive detection) and identification tools (IFF/SIF). The aircraft is equipped with Northrop Grumman (formerly Westinghouse) AN/APY-1 and AN/APY-2 radars. 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 mission crew consists of 13 to 19 specialists (varies according to mission). The E-3 has a flight crew of four.

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 + 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 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 air battles.

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, at Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) in Oklahoma received the first E-3s. The last U.S. Air Force E-3 was delivered in 1984. Air Combat Command has 27 E-3s at Tinker AFB while the Pacific Air Forces has four E-3 Sentries at Kadena Air Base in Japan and Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson in Alaska. Also, NATO has 17 E-3As with the first aircraft delivered in January 1982.




The E-3 Sentry provides an accurate, real-time picture of the battlespace to the Joint Air Operations Center (JAOC). The 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.

FY 2020 & FY 2021 - E-3 AWACS DoD Program:

This data is available in Forecast International's U.S. Defense Budget Forecast, a comprehensive analytical database containing historical and forecast budget figures, year-to-year funding comparisons, congressional budget markups, program justification documents, and much more.

Sources: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), The Boeing Company,
and Northrop Grumman Corp.

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