I came across the E-3 AWACS aircraft with the designation E-3, I could not find what the letter E means in E-3.


1 Answer 1


The E isn't exactly the short form of a word as it is a mission designation. In the US military's Tri-Service aircraft designation system, E indicates that the aircraft performs special electronic missions. Similarly, F implies the aircraft is a fighter aircraft and B indicates the aircraft performs bombing missions.

edit: here is the US military aircraft designation system

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Sounds like E is the short form of "electronic" 🤔 $\endgroup$
    – Josef
    Jul 10, 2018 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Josef yes, but they aren't all that way. L is cold weather, K is tanker, etc. $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2018 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ @MarshallTigerus: I thought K for tankers came from "K"erosene (jet fuel)? $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Jul 10, 2018 at 16:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Sean or just tanKer (like coLd weather). The US military has a long history of it, though. e.g. carriers being CV comes from them being a cruiser hull (C) using heavier than air aircraft (V). $\endgroup$ Jul 10, 2018 at 16:19
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    $\begingroup$ @MarshallTigerus: And here I thought CV was an abbreviation for "(aircraft-) "C"arrier "V"essel". Guess I learnt something new today! $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Jul 10, 2018 at 16:21

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