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SLASHING THE SENTRIES?

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E-3 Sentry AWACS

E-3s Slated for Boneyard In Obama Budget
By Harold Hutchison

While much of the focus on the proposed budget cuts have been on troop numbers, or the A-10 Warthog, one other cut proposed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel could be devastating for the warfighters.

According to a report by the Washington Free Beacon, the Obama Administration is seeking to slash the force of E-3 Sentry radar planes by up to 25 percent. The Sentries, also known as Airborne Warning and Control Systems, or AWACS planes, first entered service in 1977. While the United States Air Force operates 32 of these planes, another 18 were purchased by NATO, seven by the United Kingdom, four by France, and five by Saudi Arabia.

The aircraft have provided substantial service in a number of conflicts, including Desert Storm, the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, and during the War on Terror. The E-3 was based on the Boeing 707 airframe, and has a crew of up to 23. The AN/APY-1 and AN/APY-2 systems help the crew on the E-3 support combat aircraft like the F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-22, and F-35.

Three E-3s have been lost in accidents. One in Alaska crashed after hitting a number of birds on takeoff, killing all on board. Two others, one in Greece, and one in Nevada, were lost during mishaps on landing with no losses to the crews on board.