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NATO signs AWACS upgrade contract with Boeing

29 November 2019
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NATO signed a USD1 billion contract with Boeing on 27 November to upgrade the alliance’s E-3 AWACS aircraft. Source: NATO

Key Points

  • The FLEP contract covers the third and final NATO AWACS upgrade to keep the 14 E-3s flying until 2035
  • It involves installing a glass cockpit, radar and communication systems, and data transfer systems

NATO has signed a USD1 billion contract with Boeing to upgrade the alliance's 14 E-3 Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft. The AWACS Final Lifetime Extension Programme (FLEP) contract was signed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Boeing International president Michael Arthur at Melsbroek, the military part of Brussels airport, on 27 November, the Belgian Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on its website.

The FLEP will be the third and last major upgrade of the NATO AWACS fleet since its first E-3A flight in 1982, according to the ministry.

Stoltenberg said the upgrade would ensure the aircraft will remain in service until 2035. "It will provide AWACS with sophisticated new communications and networking capabilities," he stated. The Belgian MoD elaborated that the aircraft would be equipped with a glass cockpit, high-technology radar and communication systems, and fifth-generation data transfer systems that enable multi-domain command-and-control operations.

Stoltenberg said 16 NATO allies on both sides of the Atlantic are funding the FLEP, involving companies from Europe and North America, which Arthur named as Northrop Grumman, Airbus, Kongsberg, Leonardo, Thales, Indra, "and several others".

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