Wing providing support to Hurricane Harvey recovery operations

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft of the 552nd Air Control Wing, Air Combat Command, is readied for a mission in support of the ongoing humanitarian efforts for Hurricane Harvey Aug. 31, 2017, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

An E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft of the 552nd Air Control Wing, Air Combat Command, is readied for a mission in support of the ongoing humanitarian efforts for Hurricane Harvey Aug. 31, 2017, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. E-3 AWACS aircraft have been flying from Tinker AFB to provide airborne radar and communication relay capability to the aircraft and controllers involved in rescue and evacuation operations in the Houston area. (U.S. Air Force photo/Greg L. Davis)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

The 552nd Air Control Wing's 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron is providing humanitarian support in the wake of devastating flooding in the Houston area. The squadron is flying one E-3 Sentry aircraft daily in an orbit over the western side of the city. The missions last 16-hours.

Since the first flight on Aug. 29, the role of the E-3 has evolved into not just communication relay, but rather a critical coordination hub between the western Air Defense Sector, Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center, an Air Support Operations Squadron and more than 80 Search and Rescue aircraft.

Examples of information passed include hospital availability, the status of 14 helicopter landing zones, seven airfields for fixed wing aircraft and coordinates for the location of the most critically ill survivors.

The information being gathered on board the aircraft enables crews to prioritize and direct assets where they are needed most.