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The world's great powers use AEW&C systems (airborne early warning and control systems) for aerial reconnaissance and surveillance as well as to provide command, control and communications. The airborne radar system deployed by the USA and NATO was developed by the Boeing Defense & Space Group and is designated AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System). The Boeing E-3 Sentry, a military version of the Boeing 707-320 which can also be refuelled in flight, serves as a carrier plane.

The normal operating altitude of the E-3A is 9,150 m. From this height, the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force is able to monitor air space covering a range of over 400 km. Which means that three E-3A planes could cover all of Central Europe with their radar. The unarmed AWACS planes are also capable of delivering early warning information about aircraft in enemy skies without leaving their own air space. Digital data links allow information to be exchanged with commanders on the ground or at sea.

AIRPOWER16 will give aviation fans an opportunity to get up close and personal with one aircraft of the AWACS fleet. The plane with its distinctive rotating radar dome is one of NATO's 17 E-3As which are all based at the Air Base Geilenkirchen.

Facts & Figures

Manufacturer Boeing Defense, Space & Security
In service since 1982
Length 46.68 m
Wingspan 44.45 m
Height 12.70 m
Radar dome diameter 9.1 m
Radar dome height 3.35 m
Max. takeoff weight 147,429 kg
Max. speed 858 km/h
Service ceiling 12,500 m
Time on station approx. 10 hours without aerial refuelling
Powerplant 4x Pratt & Whitney TF33-PW-100A turbofan
Thrust 4x 91 kN
Crew 4 (flight crew), 12-19 (mission crew)
Display Static