EP-3E ARIES II: Aircraft profile
Description: Four-engine turboprop signals intelligence (SIGINT) reconnaissance aircraft.
The EP-3E ARIES II (Airborne Reconnaissance Integrated Electronic System II) is the Navy's only land-based signals intelligence (SIGINT) reconnaissance aircraft. The 11 aircraft in the Navy's inventory are based on the Orion P-3 airframe and provide fleet and theater commanders worldwide with near real-time tactical SIGINT. With sensitive receivers and high-gain dish antennas, the EP-3E exploits a wide range of electronic emissions from deep within targeted territory.
During the 1990s twelve P-3Cs were converted to EP3-E ARIES II to replace older versions of the aircraft. The original ARIES I aircraft were converted in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The last EP-3E ARIES II aircraft was delivered in 1997. EP-3Es have been heavily engaged in reconnaissance in support of NATO forces in Bosnia, joint forces in Korea and in Operation Southern Watch, Northern Watch, and Allied Force.
Primary Function: Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) reconnaissance aircraft.
Contractor: Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company.
Unit Cost: $36 million.
Propulsion: Four Allison T-56-A-14 turboprop engines (4,900 shaft horsepower each).
Length: 116 feet 7 inches (35.57 meters).
Height: 33 feet 7 inches (10.27 meters).
Wingspan: 99 feet 6 inches (30.36 meters).
Weight: Max gross take-off: 139,760 pounds (63,394.1 kg).
Airspeed: 411 knots (466 mph, 745 kph); cruise - 328 knots (403 mph, 644 kph).
Ceiling: 28,300 feet (8,625.84 meters).
Range: Maximum mission range - 2,380 nautical miles (2,738.9 miles); for three hours on station @1,500 feet - 1,346 nautical miles (1,548.97 miles).
Source: US Navy
The Lockheed EP-3E ARIES II is the signals reconnaissance version of the P-3C Orion, operated by the United States Navy. There are 11 EP-3Es in the Navy's inventory, the last of which was delivered in 1997. A total of 12 P-3C aircraft were converted to replace older versions of the aircraft, which had been converted in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
From 1960 to 1991, the squadrons that flew the EP-3E also flew the Douglas EA-3B Skywarrior Seawing.
On 1 April 2001, an EP-3E was intercepted by Chinese J-8 fighter jets about 70 miles (110 km) off the Chinese island of Hainan. Though the EP-3 remained in international airspace, the Chinese claimed that it was spying on Chinese military facilities. One of the Chinese jets clipped the propeller of the left outboard engine on the EP-3E, which was forced to make an emergency landing on Hainan. The Chinese jet was destroyed during the collision. The Chinese pilot, Wang Wei, was missing and presumed dead following the incident.
The crew of 24 were detained and later released on 11 April after the U.S. issued the letter of the two sorries. The Chinese prohibited the repair of the plane so that it could be flown back out, and instead it was airlifted to Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia on 3 July 2001, using a Antonov An-124.
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