A airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft is set to return to the Royal Air Force fleet after a completing a two-year restoration programme.

The RAF E-3D Sentry aircraft was struck by a towing aid during a storm two and a half years ago.

The aircraft has since undergone restoration by Northrop, the RAF and Defence Equipment and Support’s Sentry team responsible for maintaining the RAF AWACS fleet.

The aircraft needed a comprehensive structural rebuild including new skins and frames to replace those crushed in the collision.

Under the repair programme, miles of cable and about 2,200 new parts were installed including multiple electrical connectors distributed around the whole aircraft.

The repairs were followed by a recovery phase that required testing all the aircraft’s systems including electrical protection devices, radars and mission systems.

The Sentry fleet is maintained under a contract between the Sentry team of the former Defence Logistics Organisation and Northrop Grumman, which will offer support to the fleet through to the aircraft’s out-of-service date in 2025.