Luxembourg, 15 November 2023 – The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has announced its acquisition strategy for an initial Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (iAFSC) capability. Based on a US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case, NSPA is taking steps towards acquiring 6 E-7A Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Wedgetail aircraft manufactured by Boeing.
NATO’s current Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet, a key surveillance and control asset, is scheduled to retire around 2035. iAFSC will deliver an initial element to mitigate the risk of airborne surveillance and control capability gap. The Wedgetail will be integrated, as one contributing element, to the overall Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) system of systems capability.
The chosen iAFSC acquisition strategy plans to deliver the requirements defined by the NATO strategic commands and to meet operational needs of NATO and nations. The approach recognises the benefits of economies of scale, commonality and interoperability deriving from multinational acquisition of military off-the-shelf platforms. It also ensures a smooth transition from the existing capability across other lines of development and into the future.
Through a rigorous assessment process, NSPA, along with NATO and national experts, assessed industry’s responses to Requests for Information (RFI) and Price and Availability (P&A), as well as capabilities of firms identified on the NSPA Source File. This also involved defence industry research, including comparable AEW&C acquisition programmes in Australia, South Korea, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Support Partnership Nations- (Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, and the United States) and NSPA concluded that the Boeing E-7A AEW&C Wedgetail is the only known system currently capable of fulfilling the strategic commands’ essential operational requirements and key performance parameters and available for delivery within the timeframe required.
It is expected that the Wedgetail will reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2031.
In making the announcement during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), Ms Stacy Cummings, NSPA General Manager commented: “This announcement marks a significant milestone in NATO’s ongoing efforts to enhance its readiness and capabilities in the years to come. NSPA’s acquisition strategy of a sole source, FMS, multinational solution is set to deliver a range of benefits that will bolster the Alliance’s ability to respond to evolving security challenges.” This announcement marks a significant milestone in NATO’s ongoing efforts to enhance its readiness and capabilities in the years to come. NSPA’s acquisition strategy of a sole source, FMS, multinational solution is set to deliver a range of benefits that will bolster the Alliance’s ability to respond to evolving security challenges – Ms Stacy Cummings, NSPA General Manager
Surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft are crucial for NATO’s collective defence and I welcome Allies’ commitment to investing in high-end capabilities. By pooling resources, Allies can buy and operate major assets collectively that would be too expensive for individual countries to purchase. This investment in state-of-the-art technology shows the strength of transatlantic defence cooperation as we continue to adapt to a more unstable world – Mr Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General
Images courtesy Boeing and NSPA