NATO opts for Northrop Grumman LAIRCM to protect E-3A AWACS fleet

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Northrop Grumman system will guard against surface-to-air missile attacks

NATO has awarded Northrop Grumman the first instalment of a $105 million contract to enhance the self-protection of its Boeing E-3A airborne warning and control system (AWACS) fleet.

The alliance's 17 E-3As will receive Northrop's AAQ-24 large aircraft infrared countermeasures (LAIRCM) system under the deal, to protect the platforms against attack from surface-to-air missiles. The US company will supply 17 Group A kits, seven complete Group B kits and 10 Group B kits without small laser transmitter assemblies. The deal also covers spare parts and logistics support. The alliance also has an option to acquire the equipment later for its three Boeing 707 trainers that support the front-line AWACS fleet.

Northrop this month received an initial $51.2 million contract to begin work on the LAIRCM upgrade, which will also include trials on two of the aircraft to be conducted by L-3 Communications in Greenville, Texas and EADS Military Air Systems in Manching, Germany. NATO issued a solicitation for the LAIRCM acquisition in September 2006 and completed negotiations with Northrop in early November. Modifications to the AWACS fleet are due for completion by December 2009.

NATO will become the first E-3 customer to equip its fleet with the AAQ-24 system, which is being integrated with Boeing's 737-based AWACS aircraft in production for Australia and Turkey, and is set for delivery to South Korea.

  • EADS will deliver NATO's first E-3A to be upgraded under a Boeing-led mid-term modernisation programme during a ceremony at its Manching site on 21 November.

 
© Craig Hoyle/Flight International   
NATO's 17 E-3As will receive Northrop's AAQ-24 large aircraft infared countermeasures system by late 2009