Upgraded Plane Takes To Skies For Seven-Hour Systems
Boeing tells ANN it has conducted a successful first mission
system test flight of an Airborne Warning and Control System
(AWACS) aircraft upgraded under the Block 40/45 program, the
largest enhancement in the history of the US Air Force E-3 AWACS
During the seven-hour flight on April 5 from Boeing Field in
Seattle, WA the crew -- composed of Boeing, US Air Force and
subcontractor personnel -- conducted functional tests of the
aircraft's enhanced navigation, communications, radar and mission
"The flight was a significant milestone because it confirms that
development of the mission system suite is on track to support our
flight testing plans," said Stu Oliason, Boeing US AWACS
Integration and Checkout manager.
In future flights, Boeing will further calibrate the upgrades
and measure their performance. The mission system flight test
program is scheduled for 62 flights over the next several
Under the Block 40/45 program, Boeing outfitted the Test System
3 (TS-3) AWACS aircraft with new mission computing hardware and
software, upgraded radar equipment, and navigation and
These enhancements are designed to increase the aircraft's
capability through improved automation, human computer interface
and reliability as well as lowered lifecycle costs. These upgrades
make AWACS a prime catalyst for network-enabled battle management
and command-and-control capability and an extraordinary force
multiplier across the entire operational theater.
Based on a Boeing 707-320B airframe, the E-3 AWACS provides
wide-area surveillance, command-and-control and communications
functions for all airborne assets in any theater of operation.
In service with the US Air Force since 1977, it is also used by
NATO, United Kingdom, France and Saudi Arabia. Japan's E-767 AWACS
utilizes the same basic mission computing system as the current US
Air Force E-3 AWACS.