Content by NAPMA Staff | Pictures by Shirley Born

Forty Years of Dedication to Maintaining NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Capability

Photo Caption: BGen Michael Gschossmann (l), General Manager of NAPMA receiving a memento from Mr. Max Kuchler (r), GM of IAMCO

From its home location in Brunssum, NLD, the NATO AEW&C Programme Management Agency (NAPMA) has been continuously ensuring that the fleet of NATO E-3A aircraft can meet the Alliance’s operational requirements with its advanced command and control and surveillance capabilities for 40 years.

The consortium of the NATO AEW&C Programme Management Organization (NAPMO) nations, as the fleet owners, created NAPMA as its acquisition agency in 1979. NAPMA was intended to be short-lived – acquiring and delivering initially an already-available capability that was foreseen to have operational relevance for many years in its original configuration.

However, evolving threats and growing urgency for Alliance technology advancements soon drove a requirement to maintain NAPMA to manage consecutive and essential NE-3A fleet modernizations programmes called the Near-Term, Mid-Term and Follow-on Upgrade Programmes. Now, 40 years after its inception, NAPMA will soon embark on the intentionally-named Final Lifetime Extension Programme. At every stage of modernization, the Alliance has received better and more capable NE-3A aircraft that could be employed in operations beyond the Alliance’s standing mission of providing Integrated Air Defense of NATO’s European airspace. These advanced capabilities enabled the NE-3A and its highly-skilled crews to support operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and, under the only invocation of NATO’s Article 5 that calls for the common defense action of a NATO member nation, a deployment to the USA after the 9/11 attacks. The fleet continues to perform its surveillance and control missions on a continuous basis at any given time in any operational theater.

With the Final Lifetime Extension Programme, the NE-3A fleet will be able to maintain its operational relevance through 2035+ and set a strong multi-domain command and control foundation for its successor that will be fielded as part of the Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) programme. This programme is currently in its Concept Development stage under the lead of NAPMA’s sister agency, NSPA. The continued security of the Alliance will depend on a solid operational hand-off from the NE-3A to the capabilities that will be provided via the AFSC Programme. On its 40th birthday, NAPMA is proud of its legacy and its numerous accomplishments providing a capability that is critical to NATO’s common defense.

NAPMA celebrated its 40th anniversary at the NATO International Conference Center in Brunssum, NLD on 12 September 2019.

Photo Caption: BGen Michael Gschossmann welcomes all guests to the celebration


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