Boeing has handed over the first upgraded E-3F Sentry airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) aircraft to the French Air Force.
The on-schedule delivery follows ground and flight tests at Avord Air Force Base in France, and qualification by the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA).
A total of four French E-3F AWACS aircraft and associated ground systems are being upgraded by Boeing as part of a $324m foreign military sales contract awarded by the US Air Force in February 2010.
Undertaken in collaboration with Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance, the mid-life upgrade (MLU) programme aims to provide the crew with more actionable information and better situational awareness, while increasing mission effectiveness and efficiencies.
Boeing French AWACS programme manager Steve Swanz said: "The focus, commitment and hard work among Boeing, Air France Industries and French and US Government teams were key in achieving this milestone on schedule."
Boeing France president Yves Galland said: "The French Mid-Life Upgrade programme is a model for enhancing intelligence and surveillance capability within the armed forces.
"This programme also demonstrates Boeing’s enduring commitment in providing the French Air Force with a superior air battle management capability."
The programme includes integration of primary AWACS display, upgraded identification friend-or-foe interrogation system, mission consoles, new mission computing subsystem, as well as integrated sensor and off-board datalinks for enhanced combat identification capabilities.
Boeing is supplying on-site engineering and quality assurance support, software and hardware support for the programme.
As a subcontractor on the project, Air France Industries is responsible for upgrade of the electrical, mechanical and structural systems and mission hardware on the aircraft.
Upgrade of the remaining three AWACS aircraft are scheduled to be completed by the third quarter of 2016.
Image: The French Air Force’s first MLU-modified E-3FAWACS aircraft in flight. Photo: courtesy of Vincent Guisiano, French Air Force.