US Air Force E-3 Sentry (AWACS)


The E-3 Sentry is an Airborne Warning And Control System, or AWACS, aircraft with an integrated command and control battle management, or C2BM, surveillance, target detection, and tracking platform. The aircraft provides an accurate, real-time picture of the battlespace to the Joint Air Operations Center. AWACS provides situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity, command and control of an area of responsibility, battle management of theater forces, all-altitude and all-weather surveillance of the battle space, and early warning of enemy actions during joint, allied, and coalition operations. The AWACS is equipped with a rotating radar dome, which contains a radar subsystem that permits surveillance from the Earth's surface up into the stratosphere, over land or water. It can look down to detect, identify and track enemy and friendly low-flying aircraft by eliminating ground clutter returns that confuse other radar systems.


  • E-3s can detect, identify and track airborne enemy forces far from the boundaries of the United States or NATO countries, up to a range of more than 250 miles.
  • Its radar dome is 30 feet in diameter, six feet thick, and is held 11 feet above the fuselage by two struts.
  • The E-3 can fly a mission profile approximately 8 hours without refueling, and this can be increased through in-flight refueling and the use of an on-board crew rest area.

Engine: Four Pratt and Whitney TF33-PW-100A turbofan engines
Thrust: 20,500 pounds each engine at sea level
Wingspan: 145 feet, 9 inches
Length: 152 feet, 11 inches
Height: 41 feet, 9 inches
Speed: 360 mph
Range: Over 5,000 nautical miles
Ceiling: 29,000 feet
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 325,000 pounds
Crew: Flight crew of four plus mission crew of 13-19 specialists
Unit Cost: $270 million
Inventory:  32