Saudi’s AWACS upgrade

Boeing has been awarded a $49.2m contract, including options, to upgrade communications onboard Saudi Arabia‘s fleet of five E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.

The US Air Force Electronic Systems Center awarded the contract under a foreign military sales agreement for the integration of Link 16, a digital data link that Boeing claims to allow military aircraft, ships and ground units to securely exchange their jam-resistant tactical pictures in near real time. Furthermore, as well as allowing text messages to be exchanged, Link 16 contains additional channels for digital voice.

Installation and checkout of the system on the first Saudi AWACS aircraft is scheduled to begin in December at Boeing’s site in Seattle, Washington, followed by an interoperability demonstration with a Link 16-modified F-15 fighter. The remaining four aircraft will be upgraded by Alsalam Aircraft in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The fleet upgrade is scheduled for completion in December 2009.

AWACS is currently installed on military 707 and 767 aircraft.