The entire Royal Air Force E-3 Sentry fleet has been temporarily grounded after an electrical fault was discovered.

According to the Royal Air Force the Sentry’s roles include air and sea surveillance, airborne command and control and weapons control.

The aircraft’s mission systems can separate, manage and display targets individually on situation displays within the aircraft, or it can transmit the information to ground-based and ship-based units using a wide variety of digital data links.

The RAF said:

“As a result of routine technical inspection on RAF E-3D aircraft, an issue has been identified related to the integrity‎ of the electrical wiring and cabin conditioning system.

Safety remains our paramount concern; therefore, the Sentry fleet will only fly again once the ongoing rectification work is complete.”

The RAF operates six E-3D Sentry aircraft in the airborne surveillance and command-and-control role. The aircraft are based at RAF Waddington, where they are operated by No 8 Squadron as the UK’s contribution to the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force.

The first E-3 was delivered in March 1977 to the US Air Force and during the next seven years, a total of 34 aircraft were manufactured.

NATO, as a single entity also had 18 aircraft manufactured, basing them in Germany. The E-3 was also sold to the United Kingdom (seven) and France (four) and Saudi Arabia (five, plus eight E-3-derived tanker aircraft).

In 1996, Westinghouse Electric’s Defense & Electronic Systems division, was acquired by Northrop Corporation before its being renamed Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, which currently supports the E-3’s radar.

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