The Royal Air Force Boeing E-3D Sentry is making its final flight home to Waddington on Wednesday, August 4, after 30 years of service.
The Sentry, also known as the Airborne Warning and Control System or AWACS, has completed its final mission over Iraq as part of counter-Daesh Operation Shader.
The aircraft from No.8 Squadron had been deployed to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and was the latest and last deployment since 2015.
It is expected to touch down at RAF Waddington this afternoon, greeted by Air Vice Marshal Al Marshall the Air Officer Commanding number 1 Group and also Major General Thomas Kunkel USAF the Commanding officer of the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force.
The E-3D Sentry entered RAF service in 1991 as part of the RAF’s ISTAR fleet and was immediately deployed to supported Air Operations during the first Gulf War.
Since then the Sentry aircraft have been involved in UK and overseas operations including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, the broader Middle East and the Caribbean, together with a NATO role.
The E-3D Sentry will be retired later this year and will be replaced in 2023 by a fleet of three Boeing E-7 Wedgetails that will operate from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.
Commander of the Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Force, Air Commodore Nicholas Hay said: “Sentry’s return from a hugely successful overseas deployment heralds a fitting end to over 30 years of continuous service in support of NATO, other coalition and national operations.
“Whether operating from their home base at Waddington or airfields from across Europe and the broader Middle East, Sentry has contributed by providing a Recognised Air and Maritime Picture that has enabled others to operate with significant freedom of action against the most hostile of threats.
“Whilst this moment is undoubtedly the time for all those who enabled Numbers 8, 23, 54 and 56 Squadrons’ endeavours in the air to look back with immense pride and satisfaction, we have continued to learn much that will ensure other ISTAR platforms, including the new Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning aircraft, are able to maintain a significant operational edge going forwards.”