The United States Department of Defense acquired an E-3D aircraft from the United Kingdom to act as a trainer for the E-6B “Doomsday” aircraft of the US Navy. The contract was valued at $15 million, according to the Pentagon’s sale notice.
The aircraft will undergo work at Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Lake Charles Maintenance and Modification Center, with a delivery to the Navy scheduled for September 2021.
The E-3D Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) acquired from the Royal Air Force is based on Boeing’s 707-320 airliner, like the E-6B Mercury of the US Navy. Both aircraft have thus a lot of commonalities, such as flight controls and engines. As such, the US Navy will be able to carry out training using its surplus E-3D without impacting the readiness of the E-6B fleet.
“Training flights expose mission aircraft to significant unnecessary wear-and-tear and negatively impact E-6B readiness and availability,” explained the US Navy. “Moreover, lack of a dedicated training aircraft increases the time required to train qualified aircrews needed to execute the E-6B mission. The purchase of an in-flight trainer aircraft will result in the reduction of 600 flight hours and 2400 landings/cycles per year from the E-6B mission aircraft.”
The E-6B fleet is composed of 16 aircraft. It is tasked with the critical “Take Charge And Move Out” (TACAMO) mission, which means ensuring the communication relay between on one side the Pentagon, the White House, the US Navy bases, and on the other side the Ohio submarines in charge of carrying out the first nuclear strikes with their submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), in the event of a thermonuclear conflict outbreak.