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E-3 Sentry aircraft retired by US Air Force after A-10C Thunderbolt II retirement

The A-10C Thunderbolt II was retired by the US Air Force last week. As part of its final journey, it flew to Arizona, where it will be disassembled for parts. The E-3 Sentry long-range radar detection plane was also retired after the A-10C.

What We Know So Far The US Air Force expressed interest in retiring AWACS planes as early as April 2022. The first E-3 Sentry left for Davis-Monthan, Arizona, with flight number 0560, in early April 2023.

The US Air Force decided to retire the E-3 Sentry aircraft because it is based on a Boeing 707, which is no longer in commercial use. As a result, maintaining the E-3 is a significant expense for the service budget. Moreover, the availability rate has dropped below 65% in recent years.

According to a press release from the US Air Force, retiring the 13 E-3s will allow the service to concentrate on maintaining the remaining planes. The service must, however, provide the US Congress with an acquisition strategy for the E-7 Wedgetail aircraft, which will replace the E-3 Sentry, before decommissioning 10 planes. Three more planes will be retired after the E-7 contract is awarded.

At the end of February 2023, the US Air Force signed an agreement with Boeing for the first two Wedgetail planes, which was worth over $1 billion. The service plans to acquire a total of 26 E-7s, with deliveries starting in 2027.

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