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Thread: E-3 Sentry crash at Nellis AFB

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    E-3 Sentry crash at Nellis AFB

    8/31/2009 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) -- An E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system aircraft was damaged while landing Aug. 28 at Nellis Air Force Base.

    The 32-person crew safely evacuated the aircraft and the subsequent fire was quickly extinguished by Nellis AFB emergency response forces.

    The aircraft, flown by Airmen of the 552nd Air Control Wing from Tinker AFB, Okla., is deployed to Nellis AFB for Red Flag Exercise 09-5 and was returning from a mission when the incident occurred.

    The Air Force will convene a formal board to thoroughly investigate and determine the cause of the mishap. Link
    Damn that stings! :(

    I hope the damage is repairable, sounds like it if the fire was quickly put out. :(
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    Defense Professional RustyBattleship's Avatar
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    Looks like the nose wheel supports buckled.
    Able to leap tall tales in a single groan.

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    Oops.

    They should be able to repair it.

    Nebula82.

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    Senior Contributor Rumrunner's Avatar
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    Looks like it could be repairable, but with airframes as old as the E-3 I'd bet this one is next in line for cannibalization.
    You know JJ, Him could do it....

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    Senior Contributor Knaur Amarsh's Avatar
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    Glad to know all crew safely evacuated though, thats what matters more.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rumrunner View Post
    Looks like it could be repairable, but with airframes as old as the E-3 I'd bet this one is next in line for cannibalization.
    Well guys, unfortunately I dont have any insider info to offer that you can't find online already (theories behind the incident). I do know that its under investigation and that bird is going to be sitting at Nellis for a while. I think they've moved it from the runway because the NOTAM listing one of the runways unusable is gone.

    Personally, with how few there are and the multitude of commitments the E-3 has to meet, I think they'll move heaven and earth to repair this one. If the frame is intact, its a no-brainer: they'll fix it. If there is heat or impact related damage to the frame, I still think they'll fix it, as long as the damage doesnt extend much further aft than the visible fire damage.

    None of the radar-related equipment should've been affected, except maybe shock damage. The fire didn't get anywhere near that far back. The computer is probably toasted (no pun intended) along with a fair amount of the radios and the weather radar.

    Once I hear anything official that's not protected info, I'll post it up...but someone else here will probably hear it before I do.

    Edit: And yes, the nose gear did collapse. I think it actually folded up into the aircraft. On the plus side, that's one of the tails that everyone hates because its a beast to get everything to work. If you're taking that jet on a 1-night TDY, you probably ought to bring a few extra changes of clothes.
    Last edited by Jimmy; 10 Sep 09, at 17:41.

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    Senior Contributor Stitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
    On the plus side, that's one of the tails that everyone hates because its a beast to get everything to work. If you're taking that jet on a 1-night TDY, you probably ought to bring a few extra changes of clothes.
    I'm not a Military Professional, but I am under the impression that every type of aircraft has a few examples of this; "hanger queens" that seem to be cursed, and require twice as much maintenance as the others. I know "The Bastard", the one SR-71C in existence, was the combination of a damaged YF-12A airframe, and the front end of an old SR-71 simulator, that never worked right; after constantly trying to keep it flying, maintenance finally got tired of working on it, and shoved it into the back of a hanger back in the late '70's, never to be seen again, until they deactivated the Wing, and pulled all of the airframes out of the hangers.

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    I've heard the same thing, that every airframe has their demons. We've got two for sure...this was one of them.

    Edit: And if I remember correctly, that SR-71C is on display at the Hill Aerospace Museum in Utah.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy View Post
    I've heard the same thing, that every airframe has their demons. We've got two for sure...this was one of them
    Great info Jimmy, glad to have your input

    Got an AWACS question for you, not sure if this has been asked of you before.

    What's your opinion on the JASDF E-767? Is there any scuttlebutt around the E-3 community?
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    Quote Originally Posted by nebula82 View Post
    Oops.

    They should be able to repair it.

    Nebula82.
    From the Pic, it looks like there was a Fire (Pointy End), so I would not have thought it would be repaired.

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    Senior Contributor Stitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chaobam Armour View Post
    From the Pic, it looks like there was a Fire (Pointy End), so I would not have thought it would be repaired.
    At this point, considering it's basically an old Dash 320 airframe, I would say remove anything worthwhile, and park it out at the AMARC.

    "Yeah. See, we plan ahead, that way we don't do anything right now. Earl explained it to me." - Tremors, 1990

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    Quote Originally Posted by TopHatter View Post
    Great info Jimmy, glad to have your input

    Got an AWACS question for you, not sure if this has been asked of you before.

    What's your opinion on the JASDF E-767? Is there any scuttlebutt around the E-3 community?
    I've never seen one in person, though I'd love to fly on it. From what I understand it has virtually identical mission systems. The scopes are the same. What I'm really curious about is the computer...the E-3 computer really is the biggest problem with the whole thing. It's a relic in every sense of the word. They have a lot more room to move around and stow gear, if they take it on the road. But airframe-wise, I'd rather have the incredibly over-designed 707 than the "big softie" 767. God knows what a 767 would've looked like if it had driven off that Belgium runway. The E-3 was mostly intact...I suspect a 767 would've been more like that C-5 that came up a bit short for landing a couple of years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stitch View Post
    At this point, considering it's basically an old Dash 320 airframe, I would say remove anything worthwhile, and park it out at the AMARC.
    The problem is this thing isn't an F-15, where there are 600 more sitting on ramps across the AF. If this tail isn't repaired, that leaves us with 26 stationed at Tinker (I think we have 27+2 at Elmo+2 at Kadena+1 in Seattle). Minus those in depot, those in the Middle East, those supporting SOUTHCOM operations, NOBLE EAGLE taskings, etc. It always blew my mind how we have a ramp full of jets but rarely have a spare available. Then a guy from the wing Combat Plans office drew a diagram on the white board...those aircraft are all accounted for, and FAST. Losing another E-3 hurts. Real-world taskings will continue to be met, but training (daily sorties) will take a hit. Although with the AF cutting flying hours, maybe it'll just balance out.

    If the AF were looking to buy old 707s and modify them like the E-8 program, it would cost at least half a billion dollars per tail. In the mid 90s the fly-away cost was considered about $350M each. What it all boils down to is "How bad is the frame damage?" Replacing the aircraft is not an option, letting it park on a stick to surveil an AFB gate somewhere is a strategic cost to the nation, but at some dollar amount the AF will just accept it. My questions are about the frame, and what's the AF's "no higher than" amount?
    Last edited by Jimmy; 11 Sep 09, at 02:05.

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    Ugly.... We need every Sentry we have have - wish we'd buy some of those spiffy 767 based ones the JASDF flys...

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    After the 9/11 attacks, a European E-3 was deployed to operate near NYC or DC.
    The lettering was "OTAN", French for NATO.

    My question is whether such E-3s are deployed to support the operations in Afghanistan etc?

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    Not exactly. They may pick up some duties, but they won't be taking over the US E-3 mission. NATO/ISAF is usually not directly involved in US OEF missions. They weren't there when I left, not long ago.

    And the NATO E-3 has NATO and OTAN on the sides.

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