The beginning and end of an exercise has a common theme. Long before the fighter start launching, an E-3 AWACS will lumber off the runway and head out towards the exercise area. It gets on station and sets up to direct the fight as the fast movers enter the range. It will support the whole mission and will guide the small guys back home at the conclusion of their missions. It will deal with any of the jets that have to change plans or abort. With everyone else back on the ground, the AWACS can finally come home. They are often the last jet back on the ground. Hopefully everyone outside will stay around for their recovery. You wouldn’t want them to feel neglected!
The Lonely Life of the AWACS
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