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The first of 14 aircraft of NATO’s NE-3 Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) fleet is being modernised by Boeing as part of a service life extension effort to to keep the fleet operational until the planned end of service life in 2035. NATO has allocated around US$1Bn for this programme.

Boeing has been contracted by the NATO AEW&C Programme Management Agency (NAPMA) and will serve as the programme’s prime contractor and systems integrator, the company writes in a press release. Under the Final Lifetime Extension Programme (FLEP), Boeing is partnering with some 16 European aerospace companies, including:

  • Leonardo (Italy)
  • Indra (Spain)
  • Airbus (Germany)
  • Thales (Belgium)
  • Jacobs (Netherlands)
  • Kongsberg (Norway)

The FLEP is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2027 with the delivery of the last modified and modernised aircraft.

NATO has already initiated the successor system under the name Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC). Recently, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) commissioned studies to assess possible solutions for information gathering and sharing in close cooperation with all 30 NATO countries, to develop realistic technical concepts and to analyse the feasibility and risks for implementation. The results of the studies include:

  • technical architectures
  • system specifications
  • life-cycle cost estimates
  • intellectual property rights analyses

Production and deliveries are scheduled to begin from 2025, followed by the training of crews and service personnel. AFSC is planned to be operational from 2035.