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Boeing to upgrade French AWACS aircraft

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The E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft. A Boeing Photo

SEATTLE (BNS): US defence major Boeing has bagged a $324 million contract under the Foreign Military Sales programme to upgrade France’s fleet of four E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft and its ground system.

Under the contract, Boeing will retrofit the aircraft with advanced technologies to enhance its performance.

The refitting will include a primary AWACS display to increase situational awareness through its intuitive interface and detailed map database. The number of mission consoles on board each aircraft will go up from 10 to 14.

Besides, the fleet will be equipped with modern mission computing processing which will improve the AWACS’ performance through the use of advanced battle management tools such as Automatic Air Tasking Orders and Airspace Coordination Order updates, resource and sensor management, and automated decision aids, Boeing said.

Some other enhancements include – improved combat identification capabilities from integrated sensor and off-board datalinks; digital radio control and management through new mission computing subsystem.

“This upgrade – the largest ever for French AWACS – will provide the fleet with more actionable information and better situational awareness. New mission computers also will reduce the mission operator's workload, allowing more time to be spent managing the battlespace,” Steve Swanz, French AWACS programme manager for Boeing, said.
Boeing expects to complete the task in 2015.

Four US-designed E-3 Sentry aircraft entered services with the French Air Force as E-3F in 1991.

The aircraft, based on Boeing 707-320B’s airframe, is designed to provide all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications support for strategic missions.

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