Boeing delivered the final Airborne Warning and Control System AWACS aircraft modernized with avionics and a digital cockpit to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – NATO in Manching, Germany. This delivery is the final of 14 and ensures NATO AWACS compliance with current and future air traffic control and navigation requirements.
Upgrades include five full-color digital displays in each aircraft, replacing 1970’s-era dials and provides crewmembers with customizable engine, navigation and radar data. These digital capabilities also allow NATO to consolidate crew responsibilities. The E-3 Sentry AWACS are based in Germany on the NATO Air Base (NAB) Geilenkirchen and are operated by the NATO Air Force AEW & C Force E-3A Component.
“The Communication Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) modernization project enables the NATO E-3A fleet to meet current and foreseen European air traffic management requirements,” said Brig. Gen. Mike Hain, general manager, NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Programme Management Agency.
The first modernized NATO AWACS plane was modified at Boeing facilities in Seattle and delivered to NATO in November 2016. The remaining 13 aircraft underwent modernization work in Manching, Germany.
“We are delighted to deliver this final upgraded AWACS to NATO and honored by their continued partnership,” said Scott Johnson, Boeing’s CNS/ATM manager. “The modernized AWACS equipment provides real cost savings and efficiency so NATO can execute their vital mission for years to come.”
NATO’s AWACS fleet is the alliance’s first integrated, multinational flying unit, providing rapid deployment, airborne surveillance and command and control for NATO operations.
NATO AEW&C Force E-3A Component
NATO’s AWACS fleet is the first integrated of the alliance, a multinational steering unit that provides rapid deployment, air surveillance and command and control for NATO operations. NATO created the first real multinational force 36 years ago to its direct dependencies. A fleet of E-3A aircraft, based on a Boeing B-707 commercial cell, was deployed at the German air base in Geilenkirchen, in the heart of Germany and not too far from the NATO headquarters, Brussels.
In the early 1970s, as a result of NATO assessments, the need for an Airborne Early Warning carrier was established in order to increase the Alliance’s air defense capabilities. At the end of 1978 the members of the Defense Planning Committee signed a memorandum for the purchase and management of a NATO-owned AEW system. In January 1980 the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force (NAEW & CF) was established, which in October of the same year acquired the status of High Command.
The E-3A Component (NATO’s first operational flight unit) began operations in February 1982, when the first aircraft arrived, but was officially activated on 28 June 1982 and reached the “Full Operational Capability” in the second half of 1988.
Source: The Boeing Company
Photo credits: The Boeing Company, E-3A Component NATO