NATO Ponders Next-Gen AWACS

NATO launched preliminary discussion on replacing its E-3A Sentry fleet with a more capable AWACS in the 2030 timeframe, reported Global Security Newswire. New capabilities, including a ballistic missile tracking, maritime surveillance, and improved intelligence and battlefield command and control, were purportedly considered at a meeting of the alliance’s Industrial Advisory Group on March 31. The alliance currently operates a fleet of 17 AWACS aircraft, several of which are usually deployed in support of combat, counter-piracy, airspace security, or training at any one time. The multinational panel of technical advisors is expected to issue its preliminary AWACS recapitalization recommendations in August, and finalize its requirements by early 2015, according to the press report. NATO E-3As most recently flew surveillance over Poland and Romania, monitoring Russian military activity in Ukraine this spring.