Boeing has completed the first test flight and assessment of its NATO Airborne Warning and Control System upgrade, which swaps out the 1970s-era analog instruments for modern avionics and an upgraded flight deck, according to a March 12 company release. Boeing flew a two-hour test flight in the first upgraded AWACS on Dec. 31, which assessed the full color glass displays that share customizable data with the flight crew on navigation, radar systems, and engine status. The system exceeded expectations, Boeing officials reported, and is now entering flight test qualification prior to delivery of the first airframe in January 2016. The upgrade to the first NATO AWACS is part of a $394 million Air Force contract to upgrade both the NATO and USAF E-3 AWACS fleets. The first flight of the upgraded USAF AWACS also is anticipated for 2016. The program will upgrade an additional 13 NATO AWACS aircraft as part of a $257 million contract modification, which starts in 2016 and will wrap up by 2018.
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