Saudi Arabia acquires E-3 Sentry AWACS ‘flying radars’

RIYADH, ($1=3.75 Saudi Arabian Riyal) – Saudi Arabia and the United States have signed a $ 398 million contract to upgrade the Saudi E-3 Sentry [AWACS] radar surveillance fleet, has learned, citing the Defense Brief portal.

Boeing E-7 could replace Sentry aircraft due to vulnerability to Chinese AAMs
Photo credit: Wikipedia

It is known that Saudi Arabia already has five E-3 Sentry aircraft, which must be “pulled” to the Block 40/45 standard. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia’s E-3 Sentry aircraft will finally replace onboard computers and electronic equipment manufactured in the 1970s, and after the modernization, Saudi AWACS will be able to act as a whole with its colleagues from US Air Force.

The current round of modernization of Saudi Arabia’s E-3 Sentry is scheduled for 2026, after which the aircraft should continue until the early 2040s. The modernization work will be carried out in two places – Oklahoma in the United States and Al-Harj in Saudi Arabia.

The preliminary round of modernization of the E-3 Sentry of Saudi Arabia in 2017. After that, these aircraft received an upgraded computer for radar control, updated electromechanical equipment, and more.

It should be noted that the announcement of a new modernization of Saudi Arabia’s “flying radars” came after reports that the White House had secretly refused to supply Riyadh with additional Patriot SAM missiles needed to destroy Yemeni ballistic missiles and kamikaze drones.

Probably the ongoing modernization of Saudi Arabia’s E-3 Sentry is part of a decision between the White House and Riyadh on how to increase the effectiveness of air defense and reduce missile costs for the Patriots.

U.S. might replace E-3 Sentry aircraft

The American DRLV E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system [AWACS] aircraft is vulnerable to Chinese long-range PL-15 air-to-air missiles [AAM]. This was announced on December 9 during a virtual conference by US Secretary of State Frank Kendall, according to Flight Global, learned

According to Kendall, one of the main problems facing these types of platforms is increasing the range of enemy weapons, such as China, which can use long-range missiles to destroy vulnerable platforms such as DRLVs, ground surveillance aircraft, and refueling aircraft.

“The destruction of these aircraft could blind American troops and complicate aircraft operations on the battlefield,” the statement said.

The US Air Force is not yet sure what exactly to replace this platform with. However, in September this year, the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, General Charles Brown, said that the service is considering using the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail to replace the E-3. He also hopes that DRLV missions can be carried out from space in the future.

At the same time, Kendall believes that Wedgetail is a temporary measure that will fill the gaps until a solution is found in the long run. However, despite the interest in the DRLV space system, this concept, according to Kendall, has technical limitations.


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