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NATO to replace its E-3A by new E-7 AWACS surveillance aircraft

According to Reuters, quoting the General Manager of the North Atlantic Treaty Ogranization (NATO) agency that manages the Airborne Warning & Control Systems (AWACS) fleet Michael Gschossmann, reported that the alliance might switch from the ageing E-3A surveillance aircraft fleet to the E-7 AWACS aircraft.

NATO to replace its E 3A by new E 7 AWACS surveillance aircraft A RAAF E-7A Wedgetail AWACS surveillance aircraft from No 2 Squadron (Picture Source: Australian DoD)

Michael Gschossmann told Reuters NATO could follow the lead of member states Britain and Turkey in purchasing the E-7, a newer radar plane also built by Boeing. Those aircraft, he said, were large enough to add potential new capabilities, such as operating drones for expanded surveillance, in coming years.

The E-7 is based on a Boeing 737-700, with the addition of an advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar, and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles which can track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.

It is a highly advanced aircraft, providing an airborne early warning and control platform that can gather information from a wide variety of sources, analyse it, and distribute it to other assets.

“Why don’t we bet on the proven technology that we already have in the E-7 and provide NATO with a certain number of those aircraft? That would give us a basic capability that could be expanded in the future,” Michael Gschossmann said.