The French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA) has contracted Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) to maintain the French Air Force’s E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet.

Work under the contract includes maintenance in operational condition (MCO) and cockpit renovation for four AWACS aircraft.

AFI KLM E&M will upgrade the Boeing-built aircraft’s avionics by redesigning its autopilot and inertial navigation system.

The MCO includes maintenance of the aircraft’s airframe, component and engines.

"Boeing has so far carried out a similar upgrade for both the US Air Force and Nato."

The special SIMMAD MCO unit for France's defence aviation equipment will monitor the MCO components of the contract, which also covers in-hangar industrial maintenance, engine engineering and the end-to-end supply chain. This also includes inventory management and the maintenance of the AWACS-specific information system that guarantees data exchange confidentiality.

The French Air Force will continue providing operational support for the fleet.

AFI KLM E&M said it will provide project management for the upgrade, while Boeing will be responsible for the certification.

Powered by four 21,000lb-thrust turbofan P&W TF-33 engines, the AWACS can travel at a top speed of 530mph and has enough space to accommodate a crew of four personnel and close to 18 AWACS specialists.

The AWACS has already undergone extensive enhancements, including upgrades to radar, computing, satellite communications and air traffic management.

According to AFI KLM E&M, Boeing has so far carried out a similar upgrade for both the US Air Force and Nato.

Image: AFI KLM E&M will upgrade avionics of French Air Force’s E-3 AWACS fleet. Photo: courtesy of Air France Industries KLM E&M.