The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French procurement agency, awarded a tender on 12 July to Air France International/KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) for the manintenance in operational condition (MCO) and cockpit upgrade of the French Air Force's four E-3F airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft, the DGA and the company announced on 19 July.
The contract covers maintenance of the E-3F's airframe, components and engines. AFI KLM E&M will provide in-hangar industrial maintenance, engine engineering and the end-to-end supply chain. This includes inventory management and maintenance of the AWACS information system for secure data exchange.
The cockpit upgrade will involve the complete refurbishment of the avionics, including the redesign of the autopilot and inertial navigation system. The E-3Fs will receive glass cockpits, with analogue controls replaced by five multifunction screens, allowing the crew to be reduced from four to three, according to the DGA.
AFI KLM E&M has partnered with Boeing Defense, Space & Security for the contract, with the European company responsible for project management for the upgrade while Boeing does the certification, as it is qualified to do.
The French Air Force will retain responsibility for the operational support of its E-3F fleet and the MCO part of the contract will be supervised by the Structure Intégrée de Maintien en Condition Opérationnelle des Matériels Aéronautiques de la Défense (SIMMAD), the French Ministry of Defence's integrated through-life support structure for aeronautical equipment and systems.
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