Upgraded AWACS Goes to War

A modernized E-3G Sentry AWACS deployed to combat for the first time after completing Block 40/45 upgrades, arriving in the US Central Command area of operations on Nov. 18. “Tied with the deployable ground system, this allows both operators and intelligence personnel capabilities far beyond” the legacy Block 30/35 AWACS, 552nd Air Control Wing Commander Col. David Gaedecke said in a release. The $2.7 billion upgrade program is the most comprehensive refresh of the Sentry’s systems, and includes modern communications, enhanced computer processing, and improved threat tracking, among other advances. The first E-3G was redelivered to the 552nd ACW at Tinker AFB, Okla., back in June, and nine of Tinker’s 27 airframes have been upgraded to date, according to the release. The E-3G reached initial operational capability in July, and has already taken part in counter narcotics and domestic air defense missions, in addition to proving its abilities during Exercise Northern Edge.