RIAT: PICTURES: NATO showcases current and future equipment

Source: Flightglobal.com
This story is sourced from Flightglobal.com

NATO’s 60th anniversary provides one of the three themes for this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo, and alliance-owned equipment – both current and future – has been on show.

As NATO’s largest collaborative equipment procurement, the giant Boeing E-3A airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft provides the most iconic form for its multinational activities.

In service since 1982, the 17-strong fleet late last year completed a $1.6 billion system upgrade performed by EADS and dubbed the NATO Mid-Term project. This has provided improved communications and navigation equipment, plus more operator workstations for managing information from its Northrop Grumman AN/APY-1 multi-mode radar.

© Craig Hoyle/Flight International

Home-based at Geilenkirchen in Germany, the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force has recently flown its first missions to monitor the airspace over Afghanistan, with its commitment so far staged from Turkey’s Konya air base.

In addition to E-3A aircraft LX-N 90453, one of NATO’s three Boeing 707 transports also arrived at RIAT on 17 July, having been used to fly in a large contingent of senior NATO personnel and ambassadors for the show. The Pratt & Whitney JT3D-powered aircraft – LX-N 19997 – was delivered in 1968, according to Flight’s MiliCAS database.

© Craig Hoyle/Flight International

For the opening day of the air tattoo on 18 July, a full-scale model of NATO’s future Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle (below) was exhibited alongside the AWACS. A new fleet of eight RQ-4Bs will deliver the multinational Alliance Ground Surveillance capability from 2012, with the aircraft to be based in Sigonella, Sicily.

© Craig Hoyle/Flight International

Meanwhile, the first of three Boeing C-17 transports for the NATO-led Strategic Airlift Consortium (SAC) was scheduled to arrive at Papa air base in Hungary on 18 July, following its acceptance in the USA on 14 July. Ten NATO members and two Partnership for Peace nations are involved in the SAC initiative, which will deliver services on a pooled basis.