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The E-3D Sentry fleet, grounded in October due to electrical wiring issues, is being repaired with flight tests having already started.

An RAF spokesman, quoted by DefenseNews here said:

“E-3D Sentry test flying has already commenced, as part of a graduated return to flying for the fleet. This work continues and a return to the normal level of aircraft availability is forecast early in 2017.”

The entire Royal Air Force E-3 Sentry fleet was grounded after an electrical fault was discovered in October. 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 at the time:

“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.

UK allies have been filling the gap.

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