WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 25th October, 2021) A shortage of engines not manufactured anymore and of their spare parts is limiting the number of Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft the US Air Force can deploy, Air Combat Command head Gen. Mark Kelly said on Monday.
"We have not manufactured these engines from Pratt & Whitney for many years," Kelly told a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies virtual event. "That engine and that supply chain consume a lot more of my time and energy."
Because of the shortage of Pratt & Whitney TF-33 engines to power the aircraft and also the US Air Force's B-52 strategic bombers, the fleet is still far behind in having the full effective E-3 surveillance AWACS force it needs, leaving a serious gap but there is no alternative in sight, Kelly said.
The "TF-33 engine for AWACS are my greatest pressure point right now on my AWACS and JSTARS (Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) fleet," he added.
The US Air Force's E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft are all now more than 30 years old and the last one was delivered in 1991 and a single AWACS can monitor up to 120,000 square miles of territory.