NATO AWACS flies with modernised flight deck
Boeing has successfully completed the first flight of a NATO Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft with a modernised flight deck and avionics systems, the company announced on 12 March.
The two-hour flight took place on 31 December 2014, during which the testers evaluated the five full-colour glass displays with customisable engine, radar and navigation data. According to the company, the system performance was better than expected, and the programme will now enter a flight test qualification phase.
A total of 14 NATO AWACS aircraft will get the flight deck modernisation, with the first aircraft scheduled to be delivered in January 2016.
The upgrade of the first NATO AWACS and the US Air Force's AWACS aircraft is part of a $394 million air force contract awarded in 2012.
The 13 additional NATO AWACS will have the upgrade installed as part of a $257 million modification effort. These modifications begin in 2016 and will be completed by 2018.
Jon Hunsberger, AWACS programme manager, Boeing, said: 'These improvements provide NATO with an AWACS fleet that will save time and fuel and will also decrease operational costs by allowing a reduction in the flight crew size.'
With this upgrade, the AWACS aircraft complies with current and future air traffic control and navigation requirements and gets broader access to airspace worldwide. All recurring issues related to the out-of-production avionics have been resolving using off-the-shelf, commercial digital avionics.
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