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RAF E-3D AWACS supports UK carrier strike group in Mediterranean

Two Royal Air Force (RAF) E-3D Sentry airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft have deployed to the Mediterranean to support UK-led Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) operations and exercises in the region.

Two RAF E-3Ds have deployed to the Mediterranean to support CSG21. (Janes/Paul Tompkins)

Two RAF E-3Ds have deployed to the Mediterranean to support CSG21. (Janes/Paul Tompkins)

The unannounced participation of the E-3Ds in the Mediterranean phase of the CSG21 deployment emerged after the aircraft's ADS-B transponder was tracked on an open source website during its missions from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

An E-3D was first tracked on 30 May operating east of Gibraltar after HMS Queen Elizabeth and CSG21 entered the Mediterranean. From 7 June onwards, the two E-3Ds have been flying over the eastern Mediterranean. On 20 June RAF and US Marine Corps F-35B Joint Strike Fighters launched from Queen Elizabeth and flew their first missions over Syria and Iraq. According to the tracking data, an E-3D was airborne to support this mission.

A senior UK defence source told Janes on 25 June that the E-3Ds were the operational command of the carrier strike group and it was likely they would be redeployed to the Mideast and Far East to support later stages of the CSG21 cruise to Japan and South Korea.

On 25 June an RAF spokesman confirmed the deployment of the aircraft to Janes , β€œRAF intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets, including the E-3D, are supporting the CSG21 deployment and associated operational flights. Operational command of supporting assets will depend on location and mission.”

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