Home  /  Operations  /  AWACS fleet  /  E-3D



The E-3D variant of the AWACS is operated by a crew of 18, drawn from RAF and exchange personnel; it is configured to meet United Kingdom's operational requirements, to maintain interoperability with Allied E-3 fleets and to maximise interchangeability with the E-3A.  The E-3D Component has six E-3D aircraft; the originally procured 7th aircraft is now used as a ground based emergency trainer. The E-3D is most easily identifiable from the E-3A by the larger engine design, the refuelling probe and the presence of wingtip pods. The E-3D operates at a similar altitude to the E-3A; around 10 km, although the efficiency of its upgraded engines gives it a slightly increased maximum operating altitude.


Airborne Early Warning & Control
Airspace surveillance and early detection of airborne threats.

Command & control
Command and control of military air units during operations and exercises.

Fighter control
Control of combat aircraft during operations and exercises.

SAR support
Coordination of Search and Rescue operations.

Airspace control
Control and coordination of airspace and the aircraft present within it.

Missile defence
Control of ground-based airspace defence units.

Support of maritime operations
Establishing and providing a radar picture of ongoing activities within a maritime area.

Technical specifications

Wingspan: 44.9 m / 147 ft 7 in
Length: 46.7 m / 153 ft 4 in
Height: 12.70 m / 41 ft 9 in
Diameter: 9.1 m / 30 ft
Thickness: 1.8 m / 6 ft
Height: 3.35 m / 11 ft
Rotation: once every 10 seconds  
Radar coverage: One E-3A flying at 30,000 ft / 9,150 m has over 312,000 km² in its field of view. Three E-3As in overlapping orbits can provide complete coverage of Central Europe. An E-3A can detect low flying targets within 400 km or 215 nautical miles; and at medium altitude targets within 520 km or 280 nautical miles.
Armament: None. 
Power plant: Four CFM56-2A-3 twin spoolbypass turbo jet engines 
Speed: More than 800 km / 500 miles per hour
Operational altitude: Above 9,150 m / 30,000 ft 
Maximum take-off weight:  147,429 kg / 325,000 lbs 
Fuel capacity: 94,124 liters / 73,913 kg or 23,915 gallons / 155,451 lbs 
Endurance: More than 10 hours (unrefueled). 


Flight crew
2 Pilots
1 Navigator
1 Flight Engineer

Mission crew
1 Tactical Director
1 Fighter Allocator
3 Weapons Controllers
1 Surveillance Controller
1 Data Link Manager
2 Surveillance Operators
1 Electronic Support Measures Operator
1 Communications Technician
1 Communications Operator
1 Radar Technician
1 Display Technician

Total number can vary for a specific mission.  

Search our content:


Airborne Early Warning
& Control Force

P.O. Box 40800
Lilienthalallee 100
52511 Geilenkirchen

Media Operations

Public Affairs Office
P.O. Box 40800
Lilienthalallee 100
52511 Geilenkirchen