U.K. E-3 AWACS
The E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) was selected to meet the primary airborne early warning requirements of the United Kingdom. Regarded as the world's standard for airborne early warning, the E-3 was designed and delivered by Boeing Information, Space & Defense Systems, with headquarters in Kent, Washington.
The seven U.K. Royal Air Force E-3s perform both airborne surveillance and command and control (C2) functions.
The first AWACS for the United Kingdom rolled out of Boeing facilities in July 1989 and began an extensive test program, which led to the first delivery in March 1991. U.K. deliveries were completed in May 1992.
Selection of E-3 AWACS for the United Kingdom's airborne early warning (AEW) mission requirement emerged from a 1986 competition conducted by the country's Ministry of Defence (MOD). The E-3 and the British-built AEW Nimrod were selected for final consideration from a field of seven candidates.
The competition ended in December 1986, when the MOD decided to purchase directly from Boeing a minimum of six AWACS, along with spares, system trainers and support equipment. In 1987, the MOD exercised a contract option for one additional aircraft, increasing the fleet to seven.
The U.K. E-3s were produced in the AWACS standard configuration, with some system improvements, and are powered by GE/SNECMA CFM-56-2 high-efficiency, turbofan engines. Enhancements added to meet the United Kingdom's unique mission requirements include enhanced maritime radar capability, a proberefueling system to augment the existing boom receptacle for inflight refueling, a digital recorder for mission audio transmissions, improved radio equipment and United Kingdom-provided ElectronicSupport Measures (ESM) for passive listening and detection capability.
Additionally, the United Kingdom has joined the United States in initiating a plan to furtherupgrade their radar under a program known as Radar System Improvement Program (RSIP). In February 1996 the USAF issued a contract to Boeing on behalf of the United Kingdom to upgrade the fleet with enhanced radar capability, which will improve AWACS ability to detect smaller targets. The first kit was delivered to the U.K. in mid-1998.Retrofit of the entire fleet was completed in December 2000. Along with the RSIP upgrade was installation of the Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System (GINS) which dramatically improve positioning accuracy.
Since delivery, the United Kingdom has maintained post-design services contracts with Boeing to ensure timely fleet support. The United Kingdom continues to review potential enhancements to their fleet to maintain interoperability with other AWACS fleets in the United States, NATO, France and Saudi Arabia.
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