Manufacturer Boeing Defense, Space & Security
------------------ Northrop Grumman (radar)
First flight 25 May 1976 (E-3A with full mission avionics)
Introduction March 1977
United States Air Force
Royal Air Force
Royal Saudi Air Force
Number built 68
Developed from Boeing 707
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 14 feet (4.2 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) for low-flying targets and farther for aerospace vehicles flying at medium to high altitudes. The radar combined with an identification friend or foe 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.
The E-3 fleet will complete its largest upgrade in 2001. Known as the Block 30/35 Modification Program, the upgrade includes four enhancements: - Electronic Support Measure for passive detection, an electronic surveillance capability to detect and identify air and surface-based emitters.
- Joint Tactical Information Distribution System to provide secure, anti-jam communication for information distribution, position location and identification capabilities.
- An increase in the memory capability in the computer to accommodate JTIDS, EMS and future enhancements.
- Global Positioning System, a satellite-based positioning capability to provide precise global navigation.
Other major subsystems in the E-3 are navigation, communications and computers (data processing). Consoles display computer-processed data in graphic and tabular format on video screens. Console operators 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. Data is collected as events occur. 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 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. It is a jam-resistant system that has performed missions while experiencing heavy electronic countermeasures.
With its mobility as an airborne warning and control system, the Sentry has an 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 for more than 8 hours without refueling. Its range and on-station time can be increased through inflight refueling and the use of an on-board crew rest area.
The aircraft are used as a surveillance asset in support of counter drug missions. U.S. Customs Service officers may fly aboard the E-3 Sentry on precoordinated missions to detect smuggling activities.
Function Airborne surveillance and C3 command, contral and communicationE-3A
Crew 17 (4 flight crew and 13 AWACS specialists)
E-3B and E-3C Crew21 (4 flight crew and 17 AWACS specialists)
Wingspan 44.43m (145ft 9in)
Length 46.62m (152ft 11in)
Radome Height12.5m (41ft 9in)
Radome Diameter9.1m (30ft)
Radome Thickness1.8m (6ft)
Radome Height Above Fuselage3.35m (11ft)
Engines: Powerplant for Non-USA and Non-NATO Aircraft4 x CFM-56-2
turbofan engines Thrust 24,000lbPowerplant for USA and NATO Aircraft4 x TF-33-PW-1 00A
turbofan engines Thrust21,000lb
Speed Over 800km/h (500mph)Aircraft CeilingOver 10,670m (35,000ft)
Endurance Over 11 hours, unrefuelledRangeOver 9,250km (5,000nm)
Maximum Take-Off Weight151,955kg (335,000lb)
Worldwide E-3 Fleet:USA33Saudi Arabia5NATO17France4UK7