Hey! I’ve made this thread so I can share photos from my real life. I’m very lucky to be involved in a form of aviation most are not - military flying. I work onboard the E3D, a command and control platform that has operated in every major conflict since it was brought into service. obviously I won’t be able to share every photograph, however the ones I can? I will share within this post!
I really hope you enjoy them as much as I did taking them. Thanks for reading!
RAF E3-D Sentry
The RAF operates six E-3D Sentry aircraft in the airborne surveillance and command-and-control role. The aircraft are based at RAF Waddington, where they are operated by No 8 Squadron as the UK’s contribution to the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force. The E-3D also forms one arm of the UK Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) triad of Sentinel R1, E-3D and Shadow R1 aircraft. Whilst primarily procured as an airborne early warning aircraft, the E-3D has been extensively employed in the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) role. The E-3D Sentry, known to the RAF as the AEW1, is based on the commercial Boeing 707-320B aircraft, which has been extensively modified and updated to accommodate modern mission systems. Mission endurance is approximately 11 hours (over 5000nmls), although this can be extended by air-to-air refueling. The E-3D is the only aircraft in the RAF’s inventory capable of air-to-air refueling by both the American ‘flying-boom’ system and the RAF’s ‘probe-and-drogue’ method.
The normal crew complement of 18 comprises four flight-deck crew, three technicians and an 11-man mission crew. The mission crew comprises a tactical director (mission crew commander), a fighter allocator, three weapons controllers, a surveillance controller, two surveillance operators, a data-link manager, a communications operator and an electronic-support-measures operator. The Sentry’s roles include air and sea surveillance, airborne command and control, weapons control and it can also operate as an extensive communications platform.
The aircraft cruises at 30,000ft and 400kts and its Northrop Grumman AN/APY-2 high-performance, multimode lookdown radar, housed in the black radome, is able to separate airborne and maritime targets from ground and sea clutter. One E-3D flying at 30,000ft can scan at distances of over 300nmls; it can detect low-flying targets or maritime surface contacts within 215nmls and it can detect medium-level airborne targets at ranges in excess of 280nmls. The multi-mode radar provides lookdown surveillance to the radar horizon and an electronic vertical scan of the radar beam provides target elevation and beyond-the-horizon operation for long-range surveillance of medium and high-altitude aircraft. These attributes allow it to determine the location, altitude, course and speed of large numbers of airborne targets. The aircraft’s mission systems can separate, manage and display targets individually on situation displays within the aircraft, or it can transmit the information to ground-based and ship-based units using a wide variety of digital data links.