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NATO to acquire E-7 Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft

The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) will acquire six Boeing E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft under a US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement. has announced its acquisition strategy for an initial Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (iAFSC) capability.

NATO’s current Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet, based on Boeing’s ageing E-3A system, is scheduled to retire around 2035. iAFSC will deliver an initial element to mitigate the risk of airborne surveillance and control capability gap. The Wedgetail will be integrated, as one contributing element, to NATO’s overall Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) system of systems capability.

The chosen iAFSC acquisition strategy recognises the benefits of economies of scale, commonality and interoperability deriving from multinational acquisition of military off-the-shelf platforms. It also ensures a smooth transition from the existing capability across other lines of development and into the future.

“We appreciate the confidence from the NSPA and participating NATO nations in the proven capabilities and interoperability benefits of the E-7 Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft,” Boeing said in a statement. “We stand ready to support this Foreign Military Sale and deliver this exceptional capability that will enhance NATO’s readiness.”

The E-7A Wedgetail was developed by Boeing and Northrop Grumman in response to an Australian requirements and the system has been in frontline service in Australia for nearly 15 years.

The NSPA studied comparable AEW&C acquisition programmes in Australia, South Korea, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States. The NATA AWACS Support Partnership Nations – Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, and the United States – concluded that the Boeing E-7A AEW&C Wedgetail is the only known system currently capable of fulfilling the strategic commands’ essential operational requirements and key performance parameters and available for delivery within the timeframe required.

It is expected that the Wedgetail will reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2031.

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