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Records Are Meant to Be Broken: AWACS Crews Fly Record Sorties

An Airman with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit flags the 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron’s E-3 Sentry (AWACS) here July 18, 2020.

An Airman with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit flags the 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron’s E-3 Sentry (AWACS) here July 18, 2020. Not only do AMU Airmen perform day-to-day maintenance, but also specialize in a wide variety of systems such as radio, navigation, radar, coolant, and computer systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Patrick OReilly)

Senior Airman Jack Melon, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit, briskly moves away after unchocking tires of an E-3 Sentry for flight here July 28, 2020.

Senior Airman Jack Melon, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit, briskly moves away after unchocking tires of an E-3 Sentry for flight here July 28, 2020. Not only do AMU Airmen perform day-to-day maintenance, but also specialize in a wide variety of systems such as radio, navigation, radar, coolant, and computer systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Patrick OReilly)

A U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry flies over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, July 25, 2020.

A U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry flies over the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, July 25, 2020. Through joint exercises or direct operations, the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing continues to strengthen relationships with regional and coalition partners to defend the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Justin Parsons)

Airmen with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit watch the 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron’s E-3 Sentry (AWACS) by for flight July 28, 2020, here.

Airmen with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit watch the 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron’s E-3 Sentry (AWACS) by for flight July 28, 2020, here. Not only do AMU Airmen perform day-to-day maintenance, but also specialize in a wide variety of systems such as radio, navigation, radar, coolant, and computer systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Patrick OReilly)

Airmen with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit prepare an E-3 Sentry for flight July 28, 2020, here.

Airmen with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit prepare an E-3 Sentry for flight July 28, 2020, here. Not only do AMU Airmen perform day-to-day maintenance, but also specialize in a wide variety of systems such as radio, navigation, radar, coolant, and computer systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Patrick OReilly)

Senior Airman Nicholas Smith, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit, prepare E-3 Sentry for flight here July 28, 2020.

Senior Airman Nicholas Smith, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit, prepare E-3 Sentry for flight here July 28, 2020. Not only do AMU Airmen perform day-to-day maintenance, but also specialize in a wide variety of systems such as radio, navigation, radar, coolant, and computer systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Patrick OReilly)

An Airman with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit flags the 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron’s E-3 Sentry (AWACS) here July 18, 2020.

An Airman with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit flags the 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron’s E-3 Sentry (AWACS) here July 18, 2020. Not only do AMU Airmen perform day-to-day maintenance, but also specialize in a wide variety of systems such as radio, navigation, radar, coolant, and computer systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Patrick OReilly)

Airman 1st Class Cameron Hollingshead, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit, prepare an E-3 Sentry for flight here July 28, 2020.

Airman 1st Class Cameron Hollingshead, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron E-3 Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit, prepare an E-3 Sentry for flight here July 28, 2020. Not only do AMU Airmen perform day-to-day maintenance, but also specialize in a wide variety of systems such as radio, navigation, radar, coolant, and computer systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Patrick OReilly)

AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --

On Aug. 3, 2020, the 968th Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron flew their 34th consecutive combat mission, breaking their previous record for sequential flights.

The 968 EAACS’s aircraft, the E-3G Airborne Warning and Control System, is the newest model of the E-3 Sentry that includes a modernized computer system and software that vastly enhances mission capability. Although the aircraft has new equipment, the E-3G is no stranger to deployed operations. It continues a tradition of AWACS standing guard since 1977, providing accurate and real-time early warning and battlespace awareness to the Combined Air Operations Center.

No other mission system seamlessly blends the operational battle plan with tactical effects.

The unit was tasked last month to increase its operations tempo to deliver significantly increased airborne command and control in theater, above their historic operational pace.

“The squadron embraced the challenge to provide critical combat air power across three areas of responsibility for coalition forces,” said Lt. Col. Terry “Val” Hjerpe, 968 EAACS commander. “We exceeded all expectations.”

Hjerpe praised 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Sentry Aircraft Maintenance Unit for generating 34 consecutive daily sorties, and congratulated his aircrews for their “ … disciplined combat focus in executing this record streak of sustained airborne battle management.”

“What we are doing is unprecedented,” said Lt. Col. Michael Tonks, 968 EAACS director of operations. “By the time we were 21 missions into our streak, our E-3 crews had already flown over 250 hours, and at the end of 30 days had flown over 340 hours supporting combat operations. To our knowledge this has not been accomplished before with similar resources.”

During this timeframe, AWACS crews provided flexible air power to on-going combat operations, safeguarding the Central Command AOR with battle management, situational awareness, identification of friendly, unknown, neutral, and enemy activity, target detection and tracking, and management of airborne aerial refueling.

Many hands contributed for a team effort. Capt Andre Hebert, 968 EAACS’s chief of mission planning highlights this fact.

“No single deployed unit is generating combat airpower alone,” he said. “It takes the maintenance, logistics, fuels, medical, and mission support teammates to make this happen.”

The maintenance crews knew the importance of the mission and streak as well.

“No matter how the jet landed everyone came together and put forth their efforts to ensure that the aircrafts were fixed efficiently and went back up as quickly as they could,” said Staff Sgt. Sean O’Malley, 380 AMXS Sentry AMU.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this E-3 team for the incredible 34 consecutive mission streak” said Maj. Todd Murray, 380 AMXS commander. “When each aircraft landed broken, our very proficient maintenance team was able to fix each aircraft well beyond the AFCENT E-3 standard. Additionally, the AWACS maintainers and operators have a very strong partnership, which played a huge role.”