The ES-3A Shadow is carrier aviation's principal signals intelligence (SIGINT) reconnaissance aircraft. This electronic reconnaissance aircraft supports all facets of Navy, Marine Corps, and joint operations. As one of carrier aviation's newest additions, the ES-3A has already demonstrated tremendous reliability and safety, as well as a robust mission capability.

In addition to its ability to exploit enemy electronic emissions, the aircraft will be able to link its receivers to terminals on ships or in ground stations, providing surface operators the capability to exploit targets far beyond their radio horizon. This new capability is embodied in the Battle Group Passive Horizon Extension System (BGPHES), and is scheduled for a prototype deployment in 1997 with the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) battle group.

The ES-3A will also undergo significant mission upgrades through a sensor improvement program. This will provide complete connectivity with a number of tactical data links. Mission software improvements will, for the first time, link off-board sensors with on-board sensors, giving Shadow crews a total, integrated picture of the battlespace. The same picture will also be sent in near real-time to other warfighters.

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