NATO and Boeing Company signed a landmark contract of $1 billion, to modernise the Alliance’s fleet of AWACS aircraft, during a ceremony at Melsbroek Airport in Brussels, on 27 November.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the contract with Boeing shows the Alliance’s strong commitment to working with industry to keep the trans-Atlantic Alliance strong, as it is a major investment in NATO’s fleet of AWACS surveillance aircraft.

“NATO AWACS have been our eyes in the sky, supporting our airborne operations for decades, from patrolling American skies after 9/11, to our operations in Afghanistan, and as part of the Global Coalition against ISIS”, commented NATO’s SG.

Stoltenberg also added that the deal will provide NATO’s 14 AWACS with sophisticated new communications and networking capabilities and will ensure that NATO AWACS continue to support the Alliance’s missions until 2035.

“NATO AWACS is a symbol of trans-Atlantic excellence, in terms of technology and partnership between Boeing, NATO and Europe. This modernisation programme will ensure the aircraft continue to thrive”, concluded Sir Michael Arthur the President of Boeing International.

The in-service E-3A AWACS aircraft is a modified Boeing 707, easily identifiable by its large fuselage-mounted radar dome. NATO is planning to replace the E-3 fleet after 2035, to include modern technologies, such as autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and big data.