The Royal Air Force today marked the 10-year anniversary of the introduction of CFM56-powered Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft into its fleet with a celebration at RAF Waddington. The Royal Air Force station, located near Lincoln in northeastern England, is the main operating base for a fleet of seven E-3D "Sentry" AWACS powered by CFM56-2A engines.
CFM56 engines are produced by CFM International, the world's leading supplier of commercial aircraft engines and a 50/50 joint company between Snecma Moteurs (Safran Group), France, and General Electric, U.S.A.
The "Sentry" provides the RAF with extensive airborne command and control capability and is considered the biggest force multiplier since air-to-air refueling. The CFM56-2 gives the four-engine British AWACS considerable combat advantages, including 25 percent better fuel burn and much higher altitude capabilities compared to similar aircraft equipped with other engine types.
The 24,000-pound thrust CFM56-2A engines have maintained outstanding performance and reliability levels in 10 years of operation with the RAF. The aircraft have required minimal logistical support under all operational conditions, both at the main and forward operating bases. For example, the RAF has flown 20,000 AWACS flight hours over Bosnia. In 2,500 missions, only two sorties were not completed due to engine problems. In addition, the "Sentry" has maintained a reputation within the Lincoln area as an extremely quiet, clean aircraft compared to other applications operating from this airfield.
In addition to the RAF AWACS, the CFM56-2 also powers other military applications, including more than 400 re-engined KC-135R tanker aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and four French AWACS.
Initially forming No. 8 Squadron, the seven Royal Air Force AWACS aircraft are now distributed into No. 8 and 23 Squadrons which together constitute the E-3D component of the NATO Airborne Early Warning, Command and Control Force.
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