EC-33 "Tracer" Airborne Warning and Control Vehicle

(Version 1.0 - Last updated: 05/31/02)
Background and RPG stats by Kenneth Olson
Based on a design shown in Robotech Episode 32 "Broken Heart"


The EC-33 "Tracer" was designed for the United States Air force as the primary airborne early warning and control system (AWACS) during the Global Civil War of the late 1990's as a replacement for the aging E-3 Sentry system.  The EC-33 was designed to carry an extensive mission avionics package to provide long-range target acquisition of identification of both air and land based targets, and control/communications for directing other combat aircraft to targets.  Although several proposals were considered including the use of Boeing 767 aircraft, a modified MD-90-50 airframe was chosen because lower unit costs, maintenance and greater reliability. 

The EC-33 is similar to previous generations of AWACS aircraft; however, the use of the smaller MD-90 airframe reduces the aircrafts venerability while in the air, allows the vehicle to fit into much smaller and less costly hardened bunkers while on the ground, and reduced the overall maintenance cost.  The basic airframe of the MD-90 has been lengthen by nearly 2 meters and strengthened to allow the inclusion of a the AN/APY-3 system on a top mounted ray dome.  A new tail, forward canard, and wing assembly were designed to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of the unit and to allow for increased fuel loads necessary for long duration missions.   Four Rolls Royce BR715-C1-30 turbofan engines, each providing over 93 kN of thrust, are mounted in the rear not only to provide the additional thrust needed to propel the vehicle but to power the nearly two MW electric needed for the radar systems. 

The EC-33 mounts a AN/APY-3 multi-mode S-band pulsed Doppler system on a top mounted ray dome which rotates at 6 rpm.  The AN/APY-3 is a liquid-cooled phased array radar with an estimated effective radiative power 105 dBW.  The system has the capability of scanning in both elevation as well as azimuth and thus can revisit targets if necessary until the ray dome rotates up to 60 degrees away from the target.  The system can operate in both low-PRF pulsed modes to enable the detection long-range targets beyond the horizon or high-PRF modes to detect all-altitude targets out to the radar line of sight.  The system is capable of detecting 0 dBsm targets, in high PRF mode, out to nearly 600 km.  In addition, the AN/APY-3 has the capability to operate as a radar jammer providing broadband protection using the full radiative power of the system.

In addition to its airborne detection capabilities, the EC-33 mounts a powerful AM/AP-110 radar on two electronically-scanned conformal antenna on top of the main body in front of the surveillance radar.  The AP-110 has 30 separate modes including the capability to operate as both a Moving Target Indicator (MTI) or as a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which allows the system to paint a picture of ground based targets and to aid in targeting.  Target quality coordinates are thus provided to the EC-33's associated fighters which can either attack them directly or use long ranged stand off weaponry.

By combining a powerful surveillance radar with a multi-mode SAR, the EC-33 thus replaced both the E-3 Sentry and E-8 Joint Stars in the USAF.  The system was so successful, that by the end of the Global Civil War nearly 125 EC-33 block-10's were build and fielded in large numbers by all members of the Western Alliance.  Although production of the original Block-10 model ended in 2001, the EC-33 continued to soldier as the main Airborne Warning and Control vehicle during the early years of the Robotech Defense Force.

Early in the formation of the RDF, military planers concentrated on building purely combat units such as variable fighters and Destroids; however, by late 2008 designers decided to reengineer the EC-33 aircraft using the advanced materials and electronics salvaged from the SDF-1.    Using an advanced titanium composite theEC-33 block-20 model was thus provided with nearly double the armor protection of the earlier block-10 models at no increase in weight.  The older AM/AP-110 radar was kept; however, a new AN/APY-4 surveillance radar was mounted thus providing nearly 10 dB additional performance over the earlier -3 model.  Although, protoculture powered engines were originally considered, designers decided that the expense and still experimental nature would be overkill for a this vehicle.  As a result, the EC-33 block-20 model mounts four conventionally powered Rolls Royce BR715-C1-50 turbofan engines each providing 124.5 kN of thrust.

Production of the block-20 started in 2009 with the first operational squadron forming later that same year.  The Robotech Defense Force had originally decided to retrofit older block-10 models to the newer block-20 standard; however, the costs of retrofitting the older units proved too expensive and all of the older block-10 models were placed into mothballs by 2010.  A total of 107 block-20 models were produced from 2009 until the Zentraedi bombardment of the Earth in 2011 during which 76 units were destroyed.  The remaining 31 units were fielded by the RDF in six squadrons of five with one training aircraft in reserve.  Three of the squadrons were placed in South America to provide the RDF with 24 hour surveillance around the Zentraedi control zone.  The EC-33 proved highly successful in directing both veritech fighters against airborne targets and Destroid units using its foliage penetrating SAR radar against terrestrial based units.  Not a single EC-33 was lost in combat; however a oneunit was lost in 2015 due to engine malfunction and three units were destroyed on the ground due to a successful Zentraedi sabotage mission. 

With the departure of the SDF-3 in 2022 the remaining twenty-seven EC-33 were placed under the operational control the the Southern Cross Tactical Air Forces.  The units were moved back from their forward deployed bases in the old Z-zone to protect the Monument City, the Far East and European Quadrants.  The ASC used the EC-33 block-20s throughout the Second Robotech War to a much more limited success than the earlier RDF operations as the Robotech Masters generally attacked from orbit and thus reduced the amount of warning time the EC-33 could provide.  A total of 10 units were destroyed during the Second Robotech War and all of the remaining units are believed to have been destroyed with the Invid Invasion 2031.



Vehicle Type: EC-33
Class: Airborne Warning and Control Vehicle
Manufacturer: Boeing Aerospace under contract to the Robotech Defense Forces
Crew: Typically 17 (four flight crew and 13 mission crew) however additional crew may be added as necessary.  Breakdown is as follows:
Two pilots
1 navigator
1 flight engineer
1 tactical director
3 fighter directors
5 surveillance operators
2 communication operators
1 radar technician
1 computer display technician
Service History:
E-12/Block 10: Served with the United States Air Force from 1995 until 2002 and later with the RDF Air Force from 2001 until 2012. 
E-12/Block 20:  Served with the RDF Air Force from 2009 until 2020 and later with the Armies of the Southern Cross Tactical Air Force from 2018 until 2031


Location E-33 / Block 10 E-33 / Block 20
* Pilot's Cockpit 30 100
Forward Canards (2) 10 each 25 each
* Wings (2) 50 each 120 each
* Tail 30 each 80
** Rotodome 30 75
*** Top mounted SAR Array 25 50
Engines (2) 30 each 80 each
**** Main Body 100 200


  1. * Destruction of any of these components will cripple the aircraft sending it into a death spin.
  2. ** Destruction of the Rotodome will knock out the long range surveillance systems
  3. *** Destruction of the Side looking phased arrays will knock out the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Moving Target Indicator (MTI) systems
  4. **** Depleting the MDC of the main body will destroy the unit.


Block-10:  801 kph (498 mph)
Block-20:  913 kph (567 mph)
Block-10:  606 kph (377 mph)
Block-20:  606 kph (377 mph)
Block-10:  203 kph (126 mph)
Block-20:  215 kph (134 mph)
Block-10:  900 m/min (2952 ft/min)
Block-20:  1025 m/min (33363 ft/min)
Block-10:  12,771 m (41900 ft)
Block-20:  15,241 m (50000 ft)
Block-10:  9,144 m (30000 ft)
Block-20:  10,668 m (35000 ft)
+4.0/-2.5 (Computer overrides at 2.5g)
RANGE (on station at a radius of 1,852 nm):
Block-10:  11 hours -- 20 hours with air refueling
Block-20:  12 hours -- 22 hours with air refueling


Block-10:  46.5 m
Block-20:  48.5 m
Block-10:  32.87 m
Block-20:  35.00 m
Block-10:  9.4 m at tail
Block-20:  9.4 m at tail
55,000 kg empty.
In addition to the sensor equipment, the EC-33 can hold up to 500 cu ft and 20,000 kg.
Block-10:  4 x General Electric 300 kW generators
Block-20:  4 x General Electric 400 kW generators
Block-10: 4 x Rolls Royce BR715-C1-30 turbofan engines mounted in pairs on either side of the tail.  Each engine provides 21,000-lbf (93 kN) of thrust.
Block-20: 4 x Rolls Royce BR715-C1-50 turbofan engines mounted in pairs on either side of the tail.  Each engine provides 28,000-lbf (124.5 kN) of thrust.
Block-10:  20,250 US gal (76,655 liters)
Block-20:  24,350 US gal (92,175 liters)


None EC-33 has no onboard weapon systems and is wholly dependant on fighters for protection.  As a result, the EC-33 is normally stationed several hundred kilometers away from the battle space.



Random Hit Locations

When there is an equal chance of hitting both sides from 1d6

When there is a preferred side, roll 1d10







Pilot's Compartment (Main Body) 01-25 - 01-10 01-10 01-10
Forward Canards (Main Body) 26-29 01-04 11-14 11-15 11-15
Wings (Main Body) 30-45 05-25 15-30 16-40 16-40
Tail (Main Body) 46-55 26-50 31-40 41-50 41-47
Rotodome (Main Body) 56-65 51-55 41-50 51-60 48-53
SAR Arrays (Main Body) 66-70 56-57 51-60 61-62 -
Engines (Main Body) 71-85 58-75 61-70 63-70 54-65
Main Body 86-00 76-00 71-00 71-00 66-00


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