The Boeing E-3 Sentry is an American military airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft based on the Boeing 707 that provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications. It is used by countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia, and NATO air defense forces. It is distinguished by the disc-shaped rotodome above the fuselage. Production ended in 1992 after 68 had been built.
Engineering, test and evaluation began on the first E-3 Sentry in October 1975. In March 1977 the 552nd Airborne Warning and Control Wing (now the 552d Air Control Wing) at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma received the first E-3 aircraft.
The United States Air Force have a total of 32 E-3s in active service. 27 are stationed at Tinker AFB and belong to the Air Combat Command (ACC). Four are assigned to the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) and stationed at Kadena AB, Okinawa and Elmendorf AFB, Alaska. One aircraft (TS-3) is assigned to the Boeing Aircraft Company for testing and development.NATO acquired 18 E-3As and support equipment for a NATO air defense force. Since all aircraft must be registered with a certain country, the decision was made to register the 18 NATO AWACS planes with Luxembourg, a NATO country that until that point had not had any air force. The first NATO E-3 was delivered in January 1982. Presently 17 NATO E-3As are in the inventory, since one NATO E-3 was lost in a crash.