The E-3 Sentry serves as an airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft. The E-3 can operate in all weather conditions and is capable of providing commad and communications to coordinate attacks or defense. During operation desert storm the E-3 was proven to be one of the best control aircraft in the world.
The airframe of the E-3 is basically a modified Boeing 707 commercial airframe. The mian change in the airframe is the 30 foot rotating radar dome on the top of the plane. The dome itself is six feet thick and is 11 feet above the main body of the plane. The radar system itself has the ability to detect airplanes as far up as the stratosphere and a range of over 200 miles (320 km) for low-flying targets while the radar has an even longer range for targets flying at higher altitudes. The radar can also filter out ground clutter so it can detect low-flying aircraft.
The E-3 uses its powerfull radar and other systems to gather information about the entire battlefield. The E-3 can detect and track enemy aircraft and ships while also keeping the location of freindly forces. This information is sent to freindly contol centers all over the battlefield. This information is sent to aid in reconaissance, interdiduction, and close air support. Also it aids in the defensive role by detecting enemy aircraft then sending freindly aircraft to intercept them.
The E-3 has proven to be more effective then the standerd ground based radar mostly because of it's abilty to quikly change directions and because having the radar up in the air increases the range by decreasing the number of obstacles in the path of the radar.
The E-3 can be in the air for over 11 hours without stoppind to refuel. As well as the E-3's role in military operations the Sentry is also used to detect and stop smuggling operations into the United States.
Development of the first E-3 began in October 1975. The first E-3s were received in March 1977. E-3s were assigned to the 552nd ACW. NATO uses 18 E-3 Sentries. The United Kingdom has also recieved 7 E-3s and France has 4. E-3s have been used extensivly during operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield. During the course of Desert Storm the E-3s flew more than 400 missions and spent over 5,000 ours in the air. Also the E-3s assisted in all but two of the air to air kills during the conflict.
Country Of Origin: USA
Manufactuer: The Boeing Aerospace Company
Type: Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS)
Crew size: 17-25 crew members (four member flight crew, 13-21 member mission crew)
Wing Span: 44.42m / 145 feet, 9 inches
Length: 46.61m / 145 feet, 6 inches
Height: 12.73m / 41 feet, 4 inches
Rotodome: 30 feet in diameter, 6 feet thick, mounted 11 feet above the fuselage.
Radar range: 260 miles on low altitude targets and 385 miles on medium/high-altitude targets
Max t-o weight: 335,000 pounds
Engine: Four 93.4 kN (21,000lb) Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-100 turbofans
Max Speed: 853km/h (460kt)
Ceiling: over 31,000ft
Armament: self defence AAM's