First AWACS Block 40/45 Aircraft Complete

The Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center recently completed modification of the first E-3 Sentry to the Block 40/45 standard at Tinker AFB, Okla. The 27-year-old airframe is the first of six low-rate initial production aircraft that technicians at Tinker are updating with a new onboard computer network, ground station interface, and infrastructure upgrades. The team “overcame a leaking radome, hydraulic contamination, and a late corrosion find,” yet managed to finish under budget and 23 days ahead of schedule, said Col. Cedric George, 76th Wing Commander, during the Aug. 25 rollout ceremony. “This is a textbook example of how you want industry and the Air Force working together,” added Maj. Gen. David Gillett, OC-ALC commander. All six LRIP aircraft are due for completion by 2014, with initial operational test and evaluation slated for next spring. USAF plans to make a decision on upgrading the remaining 25 AWACS by 2012. (Tinker report by Brandice O’Brien)