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EADS Completes Major Upgrade for NATO AWACS

EADS : 21 November, 2006  (New Product)
EADS Defence & Security Systems Division Completes Major Upgrade for NATO AWACS Aircraft Trans-Atlantic cooperation in support of NATO Premier airborne early warning aircraft available

NATO today received its first upgraded Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft under a $1.32 billion Mid-Term Modernization production and retrofit programme. This major mission system upgrade for the Alliance's 'eye in the sky' is almost as international as the NATO customer and operator. The project is led by Boeing as prime contractor.

The aircraft was handed over on schedule to NATO officials at the Manching facility of EADS Military Air Systems in Germany. Within this Trans-Atlantic programme EADS is an industry partner to Boeing and will perform the upgrade of the remaining fleet of 16 E-3A AWACS aircraft, based in Geilenkirchen, Germany, by the end of 2008 in Manching. Additionally, Boeing is modifying two NATO AWACS mission simulators into the Mid-Term configuration.

Boeing together with EADS and other subcontractors jointly developed and integrated the major mission system-related enhancements to the AWACS computers, displays, communication, navigation and target correlation and identification. 'Achieving this milestone represents the culmination of a true international effort by many talented people from both sides of the Atlantic. This has been, and will continue to be, a prime example of how great companies and their customer can work together on a global scale to field a world-class product. In this case, NATO AWACS is now the premier airborne early warning aircraft available said a senior official at the delivery ceremony.

The enhancements provide a superior air picture by integrating data from various sensors on board the AWACS, as well as from other sources, and an increased capacity in the number of targets it can manage. This highly capable mission system provides NATO AWACS aircraft with the ability to receive mission orders from remote locations and updates via satellite data links and electronically integrate them via the mission computing system.

The upgraded system offers increased interoperability with assets including other AWACS platforms, as well as with fighter aircraft, ground stations, ships and satellites. The enhancements include new situation display consoles with flat-panel displays, offering a 'Windows'-like feel. A mission computing system with an open architecture will allow cost-effective future upgrades to the hardware and software.

Thanks to Multi-Sensor Integration the reliability and accuracy of target tracks and identification is significantly improved and operator workload dramatically reduced. Digital communications systems will improve crew access and make use of radio links including improved over-the horizon communication via satellite links. Broad-spectrum VHF radios will substantially support increased operations with other nations' air and ground forces. The improved IFF transponder (identification friend or foe) is compatible with emerging international Air traffic control systems requirements. Last, but not least, is the upgraded aircraft navigation which takes advantage of the Global Positioning System part of the overall modernization programme.

NATO started the definition phase of the NATO E-3A Mid-Term Programme in 1994 after the NAPMO Board of Directors acting on behalf of the then twelve participating Nations endorsed the requirements. From the beginning it was very clear that this programme would have to be performed in a truly international partnership. In order to fulfil this requirement the NATO Airborne Early Warning Programme Management Agency (NAPMA) surveyed North American and European industries to assess what companies could contribute to the planned Mid-Term Modernization Programme. Boeing, selected as the prime contractor, then conducted detailed assessments by visiting potential subcontractors and eventually selected EADS and 14 other companies to support the programme.

Military Air Systems (MAS) as an integrated part of the EADS Defence & Security Systems Division (DS) is the centre of competence for all manned and unmanned flying weapon systems within EADS.

EADS Defence & Security Systems (DS) is a system solutions provider. It combines military air systems, missile systems, communications and intelligence systems, global security solutions as well as sensor and Avionics systems into a single effective network. With 2005 revenues of 5.6 billion, the Division employs 23,000.
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