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NATO eyes follow-on capability for its fleet of E-3A AWACS aircraft

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World Defense & Security News - NATO
 
 
NATO eyes follow-on capability for its fleet of E-3A AWACS aircraft
 
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced yesterday that North Atlantic Council agreed to develop a follow-on capability of its fleet of 16 E-3A AWACS aircraft. Joint Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability "is key for our ability to anticipate and prevent crises. It brings together data from sources like NATO AWACS aircraft, as well as national assets on land, in the air, at sea, and in space," Stoltenberg declared.
     
NATO eyes follow on capability for its fleet of E 3A AWACS aircraft 640 001A NATO E-3A AWACS aircraft
(Credit: NATO)
     
"To ensure we stay ahead of the curve, ministers agreed today to develop a follow-on capability after they retire around the year 2035," Stoltenberg said.

"This will help deal with challenges from our southern neighbourhood, and support our defence and deterrence against any threat," he added.

NATO's E-3A AWACS fleet came into service in the early 1980s. Mainly based at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, these modified Boeing 707 aircraft have been deployed from 2011-2014 in Afghanistan and are currenlty supporting the US-lead coalition fighting Islamic State threat in Syria and Iraq. They are also operating from FOB in Konya (Turkey), Aktion (Greece), Trapani (Italy), and Orland (Norway).

Since the E-3A component was established, NATO executed various modernization programs. One of the most recent of these, the MidTerm Modernization Programme, was completed in 2008. Fourteen E-3As are currently undergoing cockpit and navigation equipment modifications, for completion before 2018.

An E-3A aircraft flying at 9,150 m can monitor an area of more than 312,000 sq km. This AWACS can detect low-flying targets within 400 km, and medium-altitude targets within 520 km.