Jun 13, 2015

NATO withdraws first E-3A AWACS from service

NATO has withdrawn one of its Boeing E-3A (AWACS) aircraft from service, due to budget restrictions.
The alliance currently operates 17 E-3As out of Geilenkirchen Air Base in Germany. NATO's E-3As entered service from 1982 onwards. Originally 18 were purchased by NATO, however one was lost in a non-fatal accident in July 1996.
The alliance awarded Boeing a USD250 million contract in August 2014 to make only 13 of them Global Air Traffic Management (GATM)-compliant, in addition to an initial trials aircraft. This had raised the prospect of three of the aircraft being cut.
At present, only 14 of the 17 aircraft in the NATO AEW&C fleet are currently programmed for modernisation.
The aircraft (no.449) made its final operational flight on 13 May, and will be formally retired on 23 June when it flies to the US Air Force's 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group in Arizona - better known as 'The Boneyard'.

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