RSAF E-3 Sentry

The US Air Force’s 76th Maintenance Squadron has successfully restored and returned an E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF).

The aircraft underwent a nearly year-long restoration at the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, US, after suffering from a catastrophic damage to the radar antenna located inside the rotodome due to overheating during flight.

As a result, the aircraft, one of the five in RSAF inventory, remained inactive for more than three years.

The technicians removed and replaced the radar antenna soon after the aircraft’s arrival in May 2013, which enabled continued repair work on the aircraft’s radio systems, identification friend or foe radar and hydraulics systems.

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Middle East support chief Danny Simon said the technicians almost completely rebuilt the entire support structure that controls radar.

"The aircraft underwent a nearly year-long restoration…after suffering from a catastrophic damage to the radar antenna…due to overheating during flight."

"We had to replace what we call the big white parts — all of your high-voltage section, high-power parts," Simon added.

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More than 40 crewmembers comprising RSAF pilots, radar operators and maintenance crews stayed in Oklahoma City, to conduct the check flight prior to the aircraft’s acceptance and flight to Saudi Arabia.

Built by Boeing Defense & Space Group, the E-3 Sentry AWACS is designed to conduct all-weather airborne surveillance and command, control and communications functions for both tactical and air defence forces.

The aircraft is a derivative of Boeing 707 airliner, provides an airborne early warning capability by tracking aircraft at extended ranges, and is central to airborne command and control for relaying vital information to commanders on the ground.

It is also operational with the USAF, Nato, as well as the UK and French air forces.

Image: A newly restored Royal Saudi Air Force E-3 Sentry AWACS prepares to leave Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, US. Photo: courtesy of Kelly White.

Defence Technology