In flight: a French Boeing E-3F AWACS aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

First French AWACS update complete

In flight: a French Boeing E-3F AWACS aircraft. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Boeing and Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) have successfully completed the Mid-Life Upgrade modification on the first of four E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft for the French Air Force. The upgrade is part of a 2010 agreement between France and the US.

In June last year, AFI KLM E&M began upgrading the electrical, mechanical and structural systems and mission hardware on this aircraft. The Mid Life Upgrade – the largest ever for French AWACS – will provide the fleet a robust picture of the battlespace and more actionable information while reducing aircrew workload.

The aircraft now will undergo ground and flight tests at Avord Air Base before being delivered to the Air Force later this year once qualified by DGA. The upgrade is the most important to date for the French fleet and is modeled on the Block 40/45 contract developed for the U.S. AWACS fleet. “The Mid-Life Upgrade capability of this airborne surveillance, command and control platform is unrivaled,” said Steve Swanz, Boeing’s French AWACS program manager.

While the first AWACS aircraft was housed at the AFI KLM E&M site at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, the three other AWACS aircraft will be upgraded in a new facility owned by AFI KLM E&M at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. A dedicated Boeing team will continue to provide on-site leadership, engineering, quality assurance support, hardware and software while working together with the Air France Industries modification team.