US Deploys First E-3 Sentry AWACS • Pilot & Aircraft

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE – Airmen from the 552nd Air Control Wing bid farewell to the first E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning Air Control System (AWACS) in a ceremony at the end of March 2023. Flight 0560 will retire from the fleet later this year, and will be the first of thirteen E-3 AWACS aircraft to be retired in 2023.

The final destination for Flight 0560 will be at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Reclamation Group (AMARG). AMARG, America’s Airpower Reservoir, is a specialized facility within the Air Force Sustainment Center where aircraft are stored and parts are recovered.
Preparations are also made for decommissioning, air condition rebuilding, and depot maintenance for the US military services. Government Institutions and Allied Governments.

Removing the E-3 from service allows the 552nd to focus on prioritizing the health of the rest of the fleet. Removing part of the fleet can improve sustainability by reintroducing high-demand, low-availability parts back into the supply chain, providing a temporary improvement in aircraft availability.

The first E-3 AWACS arrived at Tinker AFB on March 23, 1977. Since then, most of the aircraft have been housed and maintained here. Looking to the future, the Air Force has considered and evaluated suitable E-3 AWACS replacements based on operational requirements.

In April 2022, the Air Force announced its intention to replace a portion of the AWACS with 50 Boeing E-7A Wedgetails. The E-7 can track multiple air and sea threats simultaneously with 360-degree coverage. MESA thereby provides ‘critical domain awareness; Detect and identify enemy targets at long range and dynamically adapt to evolving tactical situations.

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Air forces of the UK (3), Australia (6), Turkey (4) and South Korea (4) already have wedgetails in use.

Photo: (US Air Force photo by Paul Shirk).

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