E-3A Fleet - Programme Modernisation

Originally designed as an elevated radar platform, the E-3A has constantly evolved to address the realities of geopolitical change and NATO’s new mission over the last 30 years. In emphasizing the control aspect of the AEW&C, the E-3A has become an essential part of Air Battle Management and has continued to remain operationally relevant through successive modernisation programmes involving state-of-the-art engineering and manufacturing developments.

From the Initial NAEW&C Acquisition Programme through the Near-Term Programme and on through the Mid-Term Programme, the NAPMO Nations have collectively spent / committed, for acquisition and follow-on support, in excess of US$ 6.8 Billion; prohibitively expensive for any single Nation, but realisable through the collective contribution of the NAPMO Nations.
 
THE INITIAL NAEW&C AQUISITION PROGRAMME (1978-1988)

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The total cost of this Initial Programme amounted to US$ 4.1 Billion. Its scope was ambitious but the Programme was successful at achieving the following:

• Acquiring 18 NE-3A aircraft and three modified commercial 707 aircraft, for use as Trainer Cargo Aircraft (TCA)
• Upgrading 40 NATO Air Defence Ground Environment (NADGE) Radar sites
• Creating NAEW&C Force Command Headquarters
• Activating a Main Operating Base in Geilenkirchen, Germany, three Forward Operating Bases (Greece, Italy, and Turkey) and one Forward Operating Location (Norway)
• Establishing initial logistics, training and personnel support.

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THE NEAR-TERM PROGRAMME (1990-2000)

By 1988, the NATO Military Command had stated its operational requirements for enhanced communications, surveillance, and computer capabilities so that the fleet retain its operational viability, including inter-operability with the AEW&C fleets of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The NAPMO Nations agreed on the need for such an update and the Near-Term Programme was commenced in 1990. The total cost of this upgrade was US$ 1.1 Billion.

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THE MID-TERM PROGRAMME (1997-2010)

After three years of planning, the Mid-Term Programme commenced in 1997 to further improve the capabilities of the E-3A fleet. This US$1.6 Billion Programme delivered enhancements in nine major functional areas: improved human-machine interface, multi-sensor integration, automated digital communication switching, navigation system improvement, wide-spectrum very high frequency radios, ultra high frequency satellite communications, additional display consoles, and new identification friend or foe transponders and interrogators. Treated as a single-block upgrade, the nine integrated system enhancements including a new software architecture to allow for future growth and reached “Full Operational Capability” in October 2010.

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