NATO retires first E-3A AWACS

NATO’s E-3A Component at Geilenkirchen airbase in Germany retired its first Boeing E-3A Sentry this week, a spokesperon confirmed on 15 May. The aircraft, registered LX-N90449, was taken on its final mission on Wednesday 13 May and welcomed with a water salute from the fire brigade as it returned to Geilenkirchen for the last time. Read here for on inside report from Geilenkirchen.

The retired aircraft served NATO for well over 30 years, being delivered in the early 80s. Over the next few weeks, sensitive and re-usable equipment is taken out, after which the aircraft will be flown to desert storage in Tucson, Arizona, on 23 June. There, the equipment that was needed for the ferry flight, is also taken out of LX-N90449. The Sentry will then rest among hundreds and hundreds of other retired military aircraft at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, better known as AMARG.

The retirement leaves 16 E-3As in operation at Geilenkirchen. Out of those, 14 are to be updated with a part-glass cockpit. The first aircraft is currently undergoing tests in the US, with the first E-3A Component pilot having flown the aircraft on 29 April. The entire modification program is set to be done in 2018.

© 2015 editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An E-3A Component AWACS. (Image © Elmer van Hest)