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PostPosted: 04 Aug 2021, 11:07 
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The British MoD announced in its latest overview dated March 2021 'Defence in a Competitive Age' the retirement this year of the Boeing E-3D fleet (also known as the AWACS).
"We will retire the E-3D Sentry in 2021, as part of the transition to the more modern and more capable fleet of E-7A Wedgetail in 2023. The E-7A will transform our UK Airborne Early Warning and Control capability and the UK’s contribution to NATO". (British MoD)

I will post here over time, relevant photos and news pertaining to this retirement.

RAF Boeing E-3D (ZH101) is returning today from its last operational deployment, having left RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, in the last hour. It is scheduled to arrive at its homebase at RAF Waddington later today.

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PostPosted: 04 Aug 2021, 12:07 
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Thanks Tally-ho.

So there will be a capability gap for the next 1 to 2 years?

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PostPosted: 04 Aug 2021, 13:21 
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Capability specific to the RAF, however it is covered by Nato assets. As per arrangement and applicable to all member states. Swings and roundabouts.

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PostPosted: 04 Aug 2021, 13:47 
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Yup, that is true. 8)

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PostPosted: 05 Aug 2021, 10:19 
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Back in my Sales and Marketing days we spoke of a 'Teaser' to create some market awareness of a new product launch. The days of razzle-dazzle, of flashing lights and dancing girls ... \:D/ :D

Whilst doing some editing of pictures and a write-up, I thought to post this first view of what was a most memorable afternoon, witnessing the return of probably the last operational flight of a RAF Boeing E-3 'Sentry' (AWACS). More pictures will follow soonest.

Big sky, distant plane, turning for finals onto Runway 20 RAF Waddington.

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Last edited by Tally-ho on 08 Aug 2021, 17:06, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: 05 Aug 2021, 14:52 
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Look forward to the write-up.

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PostPosted: 06 Aug 2021, 12:43 
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The aviation community in the UK is well informed on aircraft movements, thanks to public access of Apps and related software. We knew within minutes when ZH101, the last of the fleet of RAF ‘Sentry’ Airborne Early Warning aircraft had taken off from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, for the final return flight to its homebase at Waddington, Lincolnshire.
Estimated time of arrival was 15.00 local and the viewing area opposite the airbase was filling up when I arrived at midday – room for 100+ cars – to watch a militarized Boeing 707. However, this was history in the making, the passing of an era.
Many of us followed the flight’s progress on their chosen App until the aircraft became visible against a cloudy but bright sky. Final checks on camera settings, you must get it right, there is no next time.
Banking into the turn for finals onto Runway 20, with the sun catching the upper fuselage and the rotating radar radome, heralded the first clicking of shutters. Ever nearer, from finals to short finals, crossing the busy A15, and touch down.

But wait, the spoiler flaps above the wings have not opened up to help slow the aircraft down. Next we hear the four turbofans spooling up again! And up it goes for another go-around – jackpot! You now have a chance to improve on pictures and rectify settings which you bungled on the first approach and landing.
Second approach - finals, short finals, landing, the turbofans spool up and away it goes for go-around number two.
Third approach - finals, short finals, landing, and again the turbofans spool up and it lifts, banking left for go-around number three!
Fourth approach - finals, short finals, landing, full flaps down and up go the spoilers, slowing ZH101 down to taxi speed. Safely home. Thirty minutes of sheer aviation delight!

The gratitude and appreciation for the commander and crew, for allowing us more than ample opportunity to take photographs, could be heard all around. This is public relations and a kinship on a grand scale. A wonderful relationship nurtured over many decades. The viewing area was abuzz, that feel good feeling, a warm summer’s day, out in the open next to an airbase.

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On finals onto Runway 20, RAF Waddington.

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Short finals

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Crossing the road

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At the runway threshold, with a view onto a stable mate.

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Go-around; signboard into the viewing area.

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Crossing the A15 with the lights warning of approaching aircraft

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Flaps down, spoilers up, slowing down in the mid-afternoon heat - heat haze!

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Taxiing to the hardstand

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The traditional water arch marking a special occasion

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PostPosted: 06 Aug 2021, 19:19 
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Some great photos! =D> =D>

Thank you.


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PostPosted: 07 Aug 2021, 07:49 
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Thanks Tally, great story and photos. =D>

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PostPosted: 08 Aug 2021, 14:08 
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Thank you AT6C and Dean.

An interesting situation developed whilst watching the RAF aircraft in the circuit above Waddington, when the neighbouring facility housing the Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire air ambulance, launched their AgustaWestland AW169 on a call-out. Both were heading in the same direction - a large fixed wing aircraft, with landing gear down and about to enter finals with a turn to port, sharing space with a helicopter.

However, as medical flights have a Category A priority in the UK Manual of Air Traffic Services, it had right of way. So, the RAF plane was given a minimum altitude and the helicopter a maximum altitude by the Waddington tower, the tower also confirmed that the RAF plane had the helicopter visual and to further maintain VFR separation. The RAF plane stayed in the circuit at altitude and the helicopter returned soon after launch, when it's call-out was stood down.

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Last edited by Tally-ho on 15 Aug 2021, 07:24, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: 09 Aug 2021, 16:42 
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I've known for years that ZH106, one of the now retired RAF Sentry / AWACS aircraft was nicknamed 'Grumpy' and only recently did I hear of ZH101 called 'Doc' and ZH103 'Happy'. I asked around and was informed that all seven RAF Boeing AWACS aircraft had nicknames -

ZH101 - Doc
ZH102 - Dopey
ZH103 - Happy
ZH104 - Sleepy
ZH105 - Sneezy
ZH106 - Grumpy
ZH107 - Bashful

They originate from the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - the seven Dwarfs! :)

Each of the aircraft had a picture of its designated dwarf displayed in the galley area, below is 'Doc' from ZH101.

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PostPosted: 09 Aug 2021, 19:34 
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Interesting! =D>

I've learnt something tonight!

Thanks for the info.


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PostPosted: 15 Sep 2021, 09:23 
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The RAF 'Sentries' (AWACS) may well have been retired from active operational use, but it was heartening to see that two of them are still plugged into ground power units at their homebase Waddington.

Nearest the camera is ZH101, the last to return from operational use on 4 August 2021 and beyond is ZH106, last flight June 2021.
Image

It was therefor a lovely surprise to see ZH101 airborne over Norfolk county some days ago (Flightradar24 coloured in turquoise) and I caught it on its way back into Waddington.
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Crossing the approach lights and about to land.
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