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Chile inducts AWACS aircraft from UK

Two operational E-3Ds were formally received into service by the Chilean Air Force on 19 August. The former RAF aircraft were received from the United Kingdom along with a third airframe to be used for spare parts. (Chilean Ministry of Defence)

The Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aérea de Chile – FACh) has inducted into service two Boeing E-3D Sentry airborne early warning Mk 1 (AEW1) aircraft from the UK Royal Air Force (RAF).

The two operational Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) aircraft were acquired along with a third aircraft to be used for spares, earlier in 2022.

During the induction ceremony on 19 August, the Chilean Ministry of National Defense noted that the two E-3Ds will replace the single Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Phalcon (known as Cóndor in national service). Both types are based on the same 707 airliner, and so share some synergies in support, training, and operations.

The Sentry AEW1 is built around a 9.1 m diameter elliptically cross-sectioned rotating radome that sits atop the fuselage. This radar has a range of more than 400 km (which equates to a coverage area of more than 500,000 sq km of airspace) to look down and detect, identify, and track low-flying aircraft over land or water. It achieves this by eliminating ground/water clutter returns that confuse other radar systems. Crew members perform surveillance, identification, weapons control, battle management, and communications functions.

Besides Chile which acquired three surplus airframes, the US Navy received a single aircraft from the UK, which it has put into use as a surrogate trainer for its Boeing E-6B Mercury nuclear communications aircraft. A further three aircraft remain available for purchase, although their airworthiness is not known.

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