Northrop Grumman Marks AWACS Milestone

Northrop Grumman hosted a special event at its facility in Linthicum, Md., to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Airborne Warning and Control System air surveillance radar that sits atop the Air Force’s E-3 air battle command and control aircraft, announced the company on Oct. 16. “The great technical innovation behind the development of the AWACS radar 40 years ago made it an indispensable element of modern air operations,” said Joseph Ensor, general manager of Northrop Grumman’s ISR and Targeting Systems Division, in the company’s release. The Air Force selected Northrop Grumman’s Linthicum-based Electronic Systems sector (then part of Westinghouse) to design and produce the AWACS radar in 1972. The company delivered the first production radar, the AN/APY-1, to Boeing for the E-3 in October 1976, states the release. The E-3 fleet achieved initial operational capability in 1978. These aircraft have been an indispensible airborne surveillance tool ever since, including supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yugoslavia, and in protecting the US homeland.