As the recent encounter with a Chinese spy balloon showed, keeping the skies safe is a difficult task. For decades, the US Air Force has relied on the E-3 Sentry, and the most recent version, the E-3G, has been upgraded with more modern electronics and software to cope with the new threats.
“The best way to describe it is kind of like the quarterback in the sky,” said Air Force Col. Keven Coyle, commander of the 552nd Air Control Wing. “It is the job of the E-3 to survey, place deployed enemies, and then allow our friendly forces to be able to be set up in a way that allows them to fight with the greatest capability.”
An E-3G passes the moon during takeoff from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma
By Brad Howard, CNBC
The Air Force hopes the Boeing-built E-7 Airborne Early Warning and Control plane can take over if the Air Force has to retire some of the older Sentry planes in the next few years. In the most recent budget, Congress appropriated an additional $200 million for the Air Force to develop a prototype to meet this need.
“Congress has approved the money for the first two prototypes, which is a very good thing for the Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Peter “Beast” Bastien, of the plans, programs and requirements directorate, airborne weapon systems and Air Combat Command. term leader. “On the other hand, there’s a physical limitation to how fast you can turn a roll of aluminum into an E-7.”
A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail takes off during Black Flag 22-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, May 10, 2022.
U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Josey Blades
The age of the E-3s has made spare parts more difficult to obtain, and the mechanical failures inherent in such an old aircraft impact mission rates. Congress has prohibited the Air Force from beginning to retire most of the current fleet of Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft until the Secretary of the Army of the air is submitting an acquisition strategy to Congress for a replacement. But even then, it could be years before a replacement is operational.
A US Air Force E-3G taxis down a runway at Tinker AFB
By Brad Howard, CNBC
“Releasing the first in 2027 isn’t bad from an acquisition standpoint,” said Daniel Goure, senior vice president of the Lexington Institute, “Even for a system that’s been around for a long time in some field variants , it’s pretty darn fast, but if there’s a way to get them faster, we really need to think about it to make sure we don’t lose capacity because of an issue with aging AWACS.”
Watch the video above to see inside the Air Force E-3G Sentry.
Leave a Reply