Military Embedded Systems

NATO AWACS fleet to get avionics facelift


August 12, 2014

John McHale

Editorial Director

Military Embedded Systems

NATO AWACS fleet to get avionics facelift

SEATTLE. Boeing won a contract from NATO worth about $250 million to integrate digital avionics and flight decks on 13 of the alliance’s Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, which are based on the Boeing 707 commercial airplane.

The upgrades will allow compliance with current and future air traffic control and navigation requirements, enabling the aircraft to have broader access to airspace worldwide.

“Increasing airspace access means greater mission efficiency by saving time and fuel during operations,” says Jon Hunsberger, Boeing AWACS program manager. “The improvements also provide the pilot and co-pilot user-friendly and customizable engine, navigation, and radar data.”

The upgrade will also enable cost savings in personnel because the flight deck crew will be reduced from four to three. It also solves the challenge of finding out-of-production avionics for the AWACS fleet by using readily available commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) digital avionics. The modifications begin in 2016 and are expected to be completed by 2018.
Under an earlier Engineering Manufacturing and Development (EMD) contract, Boeing engineers installed a new digital flight deck and avionics on one NATO AWACS. Flight testing starts later this year with delivery scheduled for December of next year. As part of the EMD contract, Boeing experts will also upgrade the flight deck and avionics of a U.S. AWACS aircraft beginning this November.


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