Sentry Maintainers Ready the Deployed AWACS Fleet
By Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol, 1st Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery
/ Published April 22, 2010
SOUTHWEST ASIA --
Each day, an E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft flies off on a combat mission in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility providing an airborne command and control capability.
To keep the E-3 Sentry flying in the deployed areas, Airmen from the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Sentry aircraft maintenance unit manage the maintenance of the E-3 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The E-3 Sentry has a wingspan 145 feet, 9 inches, a length of 152 feet, 11 inches, and stands 41 feet, 9 inches. Throughout that space with system components and equipment throughout such as lighting equipment, frequency and load controls, inverters, voltage regulators and more. Maintenance Airmen like Senior Airman Daniel Shoemaker, an E-3 aircraft electrical and environmental systems journeyman with the 380th EAMXS, said it takes constant study about the plane and following all the maintenance checks to keep the plane in constant operation.
"It is very important to keep up on our job knowledge," said Shoemaker, whose hometown is Waxahachie, Texas. "With the electrical and environmental systems being such an important part of the plane, we work hard to make sure all of those systems are always in working order on each E-3."
According to it's Air Force fact sheet, the E-3 Sentry is an aircraft with an integrated command and control battle management, or C2BM, surveillance, target detection, and tracking platform. The aircraft provides an "accurate, real-time picture" of the battlespace to the Joint Air Operations Center.
AWACS aircraft provide situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity, command and control of an area of responsibility, battle management of theater forces, all-altitude and all-weather surveillance of the battle space, and early warning of enemy actions during joint, allied and coalition operations, the fact sheet states.
"I'm entirely confident in what I do to support this airframe - just like everyone I work with," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Gotbaum, 380th EAMXS aerospace propulsion technician whose hometown is Miami, Fla. "Sometimes it's a challenge and we have good days and bad days, but that is what makes this job interesting. The bottom line is we meet our challenges every day and this plane still goes out to meet its wartime requirements."
The Sentry maintenance Airmen deployed to the 380th EAMXS are from the 552nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
The 380th EAMXS is a sub-unit of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. The wing is home to the KC-10 Extender, U-2 Dragon Lady, E-3 Sentry and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft. The wing is comprised of four groups and 12 squadrons and the wing's deployed mission includes air refueling, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia. The 380th AEW supports operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.