Leonardo to upgrade first NATO E-3A test aircraft

Leonardo has been selected to perform the Final Lifetime Extension Programme (FLEP) upgrade to the first of NATO’s E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) test aircraft, with the wider fleet expected to remain operational under 2035.

Contracted by Boeing, which is acting as prime contractor for NAPMA (NATO AEWC Program Management Agency), Leonardo will perform installation of checkout of newly-developed hardware under the FLEP programme on the first aircraft, with work expected to be completed in 2023. Leonardo will then provide also support during the final test phase at the Geilenkirchen NATO Air Base.

NATO's E-3A fleet have undergone a series of upgrades to ensure they are kept operational until 2035. US DoD

“This new challenging task joins the ongoing depot level maintenance activities that Leonardo is already performing within the framework of the NATO AWACS programme since 1986,” Dario Marfe’, SVP commercial and customer services at Leonardo’s Aircraft Division, said in a May 21 release.

Currently, NATO operates a fleet of 16 Boeing E-3A AWACS aircraft, with NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany, home to 14 aircraft.