Boeing E-3 Sentry (AWACS)

     E-3B 76-1606 is assigned to the 962nd Airborne Control Squadron, whose assets operate with the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf on a rotational basis. With typically only two aircraft assigned at any time, the AK tail code is a rarely seen sight on an E-3. This recovery was photographed at around midday, and as usual, signified the end of the days Red Flag flight operations. 

      The E-3 Sentry is an airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft that provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by commanders of U.S. and NATO air defense forces.  As proven in Desert Storm, it is the premier air battle command and control aircraft in the world today. It is a modified Boeing 707/320 commercial airframe with a rotating radar dome.  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 200 miles 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.  
    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.), received the first E-3s where they are still assigned.  Pacific Air Forces has four E-3 Sentries assigned to the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron (AACS), Kadena Air Base, Japan, and the 962nd AACS, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. NATO has acquired 18 of the aircraft and support equipment. The first E-3 was delivered to NATO in January 1982. The United Kingdom has seven E-3s and France has four.
     E-3 Sentry aircraft were among the first to deploy during Operation Desert Shield where they immediately established an around-the-clock radar screen to defend against Iraqi aggression. During Desert Storm, E-3s flew more than 400 missions and logged more than 5,000 hours of on-station time. They provided radar surveillance and control to more than 120,000 coalition sorties. In addition to providing senior leadership with time-critical information on the actions of enemy forces, E-3 controllers assisted in 38 of the 40 air-to-air kills recorded during the conflict. For the first time in the history of aerial warfare, an entire air war has been recorded. This was due to the data collection capability of the E-3 radar and computer subsystems.

See the display models of the E-3A Sentry at