E-3 AWACS Characteristics
The E-3 system is carried on board a militarized version of the Boeing 707-320B commercial jetliner airframe. It is distinguished by the addition of a large, rotating rotodome that houses its radar antenna and identification friend-or-foe (IFF) and data-link fighter-control (TADIL-C) antennas.
The E-3 offers superior surveillance capabilities. AWACS radar can separate airborne targets from the ground clutter returns that limit other present-day radars. Its radar "eye" has a 360-degree view of the horizon, and at operating altitudes can observe targets more than 320 kilometers (200 miles) away. It also can detect and track both air and sea targets simultaneously.
Its avionics equipment includes surveillance radar, navigation, communications, data processing, identification and displays. The heart of the information processing network is an advanced airborne version of the IBM command and control multiprocessing computer.
The aircraft were produced on Boeing's Renton, Wash., military 707 assembly line, which closed in May 1991.