NATO provides Boeing $1 billion deal to improve AWACS reconnaissance planes

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BRUSSELS (Information) – NATO on Wednesday awarded Boeing Co a $1 billion contract to improve its fleet of AWACS reconnaissance planes, a deal officers mentioned confirmed the energy of transatlantic cooperation days earlier than an alliance summit in London.

A view of a uniform patch of a NATO soldier contained in the Boeing AWACS reconnaissance airplane throughout a ceremony over the signing of a contract between NATO and Boeing, on upgrades to the alliance’s fleet, at Melsbroek Air Base in Brussels, Belgium, November 27, 2019. Information/Johanna Geron

First flown in 1982 and repeatedly modernized, the Boeing-made planes, which may detect hostile plane, missiles, ships and different weaponry far past NATO borders, might be overhauled with extra highly effective pc processors, servers and tools.

The 14 planes, primarily based at an air base in Germany, can already trade info by way of digital information hyperlinks, with ground-based, sea-based and airborne commanders, however want a higher capability to transmit information as know-how develops.

The improve will maintain one of many few army belongings owned and operated by the Western alliance in service till 2035.

AWACS have been flown in assist of the worldwide coalition in opposition to Islamic State, gazing deep into Syria from Turkey, in addition to alongside NATO’s japanese flank following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

“The modernization will be sure that NATO stays at the forefront of know-how,” NATO Secretary-Normal Jens Stoltenberg informed a information convention alongside Boeing President Michael Arthur, standing in entrance of one of many planes.

“It’s going to present AWACS with refined new communications and networking capabilities, so these plane can proceed their very important missions,” he mentioned.

One NATO official described AWACS, which have crews drawn from 18 totally different allies, as a logo of NATO unity, at a time when U.S. President Donald Trump has questioned its worth and French President Emmanuel Macron final month mentioned NATO was dying.

The improve might be funded by 16 NATO allies, together with the US, Germany, Turkey, Italy and Spain, and a few work might be subcontracted to European suppliers together with Leonardo and Airbus.

The modernization comes as NATO takes supply of the primary of 5 World Hawk drones, which might be primarily based in Italy.

After years of delays, the high-altitude drones made by Northrop Grumman give the alliance its personal spy drones for the primary time and can work with the AWACS to guard floor troops, in addition to different duties.

The drones will be capable to fly for as much as 30 hours at a time in all climate, offering close to real-time surveillance information.

Reporting by Robin Emmott; Modifying by Mark Heinrich