22 Apr 17


Sentry Crew

In order to operate all this complex equipment the E-3D has a crew of 18 men and women, drawn from a variety of branches and trades, all of whom are highly skilled in their respective roles.

  Position Desig Brevets
Flight Deck Captain (1st Pilot) Capt Pilot
Co Pilot Co
Navigator Nav N, WSO
Flight Engineer Eng E, WSO/WSOp
Mission Crew
Mission Commander Tactical Director TD AE, N, WSO, FC
Surveillance Team Surveillance Controller SC
Data Link Manager LM FC, WSOp
2/3 x Surveillance Operators SO FC, WSOp
ESM Operator ESM
Weapons Team Fighter Allocator FA WSO, FC
2/3 x Weapons Controllers WC FC
Technicians Communications Operator CO AE, WSOp
Communications Technician CT AT
Display Technician DT
Radar Technician RT

Flight Deck

Captain  The Captain (1st Pilot) is responsible for the safety of the aircraft and its occupants.

Co Pilot  Both pilots are fully qualified to operate the aircraft, which is generally ‘operated’ from the left-hand seat.  Pilots, therefore, fly most sorties from the left-hand seat to ensure ‘hands on’ time is shared evenly.  The pilot in the right-hand seat is responsible for radio communication and the monitoring of navigation radio aids.

Navigator  The navigator’s duties, amongst others, include ensuring that the aircraft reaches and maintains its orbit position, often in airspace giving little margin for error.

Flight Engineer  The flight engineer is responsible for monitoring the engine power and flight performance of the aircraft.

Mission Crew

Tactical Director   The Tactical Director (TD) is responsible for the overall conduct of the mission, as tasked by the operating authorities.  He is the senior member of the mission crew and liaises directly with the operating authorities.

Surveillance Team  The surveillance team is commanded by the Surveillance Controller (SC) who provides the optimum radar picture with which to work.  Working for him are the Links manager (LM), who ensures the efficient employment of the digital data links, 2 or 3 Surveillance operators (SOs) and an ESM operator who compile the recognised air and surface picture for onward transmission to the ground and other units.

Weapons Team  The weapons team is headed by the Fighter Allocator (FA) who is responsible for the safe conduct of all aircraft which have been allocated to the E-3D to control.  His 2 or 3 Weapons Controllers (WCs) can control a wide variety of air missions including Offensive and Defensive Counter Air operations using fighters, Close Air Support and Battlefield Air Interdiction using bombers and a wide variety of operational support aircraft.

Communications Operator  The Communications Operator (CO) is in charge of all the Sentry’s on-board communications.  He allocates access to radios and data links to those who need them.

Airborne Technicians  Because of the complexity of the on-board systems the E-3D is unique in the Royal Air Force in carrying airborne technicians who initialise, monitor and provide basic maintenance of the highly sophisticated mission equipment:
Communications Technician  The Communications Technician (CT) assists the CO in the running of all the on-board communications systems including the physical data links.
Display Technician  The Display Technician (DT) initialises, runs and maintains the on-board computer systems which are the heart of the mission equipment.
Radar Technician  The Radar Technician (RT) runs the mission radar without which there would be no mission.  He liaises with the SC and the DT to provide the best possible radar picture for the surveillance and weapons teams to work with.