Boeing has selected Leonardo’s software-defined radio (SDR) for the Nato fleet of E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.

The SDR to be provided by Leonardo is SWave Airborne SRT-800.

Nato owns and operates the AWACS aircraft fleet, which is under the Final Lifetime Extension Programme (FLEP) with Boeing.

In 2019, Nato and Boeing signed a $1bn agreement to modernise the aircraft.

The programme will extend the fleet’s operational capability until 2035. The aircraft plays a key role in the alliance’s air battle management capability.

Built by Boeing, the E-3 AWACS performs airborne surveillance and command, control and communications (C3) functions for tactical and air defence forces. It is derived from Boeing 707 platform and equipped with radar and passive sensors.

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By GlobalData

Cyber-attacks continue to be a major threat to all kinds of military operations.

According to Leonardo, the SRT-800 SDR will enable the AWACS fleet to carry out air-to-air and air-to-ground communications in a secure and cyber-resilient manner.

Leonardo noted that SRT-800 can be easily equipped on several fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, manned or unmanned vehicles. It is suitable for retrofit aircraft.

A single SRT-800 radio unit replaces many avionic units, such as ultra-high-frequency / very high-frequency radio, satellite communications, single channel ground and airborne radio system, and crypto device.

Boeing will integrate the Leonardo SWave Airborne SDR SRT-800 into the aircraft’s mission system.

Using software update, the SDRs can then be fully reconfigured easily while eliminating the need for hardware modifications.

The devices meet the Software Communications Architecture (SCA) standard for maximum flexibility.