Air Force News

Air Force enhances AWACS capability

Released: May 13, 1998

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- The 552nd Air Control Wing here recently declared initial operational capability for the latest E-3 upgrade.

The Block 30/35 modification is the largest upgrade in the Airborne Warning and Control System's 20-year history. The upgrade improves the E-3's ability to conduct its air battle management mission worldwide.

The Block 30/35 modification covers four important areas in the aircraft, said Lt. Col. Melvin Fitzpatrick, chief of wing operational requirements for the 552nd ACW. These modifications cover: the global positioning system, upgraded computer systems, new electronic support measures system and the joint tactical information distribution system Class 2H terminal.

The GPS enhancements incorporates the system into navigation and mission crew computers, which lets crews more accurately determine the position of the E-3 and the weapons system it is tracking, said Fitzpatrick. It also enhances flight planning.

An upgraded computer system gives the aircraft the processing power and additional memory needed to support the modifications and provides for future system growth.

Also included in the upgrade package is the new electronic support measures system. The ESM system passively detects signals from hostile, neutral, friendly, and unknown emitters and identifies targets, augmenting present on-board sensors. This system will greatly improve the E-3 combat identification, surveillance and weapon control capability.

The Class 2H JTIDS terminal is a secure digital communications system that allows E-3 crew members to communicate with other participants in air battle, such as fighter aircraft, Navy units and ground-based units. It has a capability to identify units using common points of reference.

"The Block 30/35 upgrade is the cornerstone of the E-3 modernization program. These upgrades enhance our ability to do our mission and will keep the wing at the cutting edge of air battle management well into the 21st century," said Brig. Gen. James W. Morehouse, 552nd ACW commander.

Currently, the wing has 10 aircraft equipped with these modifications and expects the fleet to be completed by 2001.

"This upgrade is the latest in a series of upgrades designed to ensure the aircraft's viability through the year 2025," said Fitzpatrick. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)


* E-3 Sentry (AWACS)
* Air Combat Command
* Brig. Gen. James W. Morehouse
* Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.