Design Engineering

General Dynamics Canada delivers final computer upgrades to mission consoles aboard NATO AWACS aircraft


General DPN

General Dynamics Canada recently completed the last in a series of on-time deliveries of updated computer systems for the 16 operator consoles aboard each NATO Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) aircraft, as well as on two aircraft mission simulators. The AWACS Computer Upgrade Project was awarded to General Dynamics Canada by the NATO AWACS Programme Management Agency (NAPMA) in July 2009.

“The upgraded mission consoles make the NATO AWACS the most advanced aircraft of its kind in service today,” said Mike McKinnon, Senior Program Manager for NATO Programs at General Dynamics Canada. “AWACS crews can now conduct their missions with unprecedented speed and effectiveness.”

Designed and engineered specifically for the NATO AWACS aircraft and simulators, the upgraded operator consoles deliver a substantial improvement in computing features, capabilities and performance compared to the previous system. Among the improvements, the upgraded consoles deliver faster collection and collation of situational awareness and tactical information, enabling mission operators to more efficiently track and direct air and ground assets while maintaining vital connections with ground command centers.

General Dynamics Canada also supplies the Mission Data Recorders (MDR) and Mission LAN Systems (MLS) for the NATO AWACS fleet. The MDRs record, time-tag and store all mission data and audio communications that take place during a mission. The MLS is the central backbone of the fiber-optic local area network within the aircraft. It provides switching of all high-speed Ethernet data communications among the mission consoles, multi-sensor integration computers, the MDR and airborne mission computers.


NATO operates a fleet of 17 Boeing E-3A ‘Sentry’ AWACS aircraft from the NATO Air Base in Geilenkirchen, Germany. The NE-3A is a modified Boeing 707 equipped with long-range radar and passive sensors capable of detecting air and surface contacts over large distances.


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