Boeing is to begin the upgrade of Japan's fleet of E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft with a USD25.6 million design and production contract announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 28 October.
The four aircraft, which have been in service with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) since 1998-99, will each be fitted with new systems, and three ground support facilities will also be upgraded under the programme.
Specifically, the aircraft will be equipped with updated mission computers, electronic support measures, a traffic alert and collision avoidance system, AN/APX-119 interrogator friend or foe (IFF) transponder, next-generation UPX-40 IFF, automatic identification system, and datalink upgrades.
According to the DoD, this modernisation work "will allow Japan's AWACS fleet to be more compatible with the US Air Force [Boeing E-3 Sentry] AWACS fleet baseline, and provide for greater interoperability".
The design and production work will be performed by Boeing in Washington state, and is expected to be completed by 28 February 2015. According to a US Defense and Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notification into the upgrade that was released in late 2013, the total value of the programme, including installation, is USD950 million.
This design and production contract follows an initial Mission Computing Upgrade (MCU) contract for the E-767 AWACS fleet that is set to be completed by 31 December 2014.
Japan is the only operator of the E-767 AWACS platform, with the other AWACS users of France, NATO, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States opting instead to utilise the 707-based E-3 airframe.