The NATO Support and Acquisition Agency (NSPA) began evaluating proposals to replace 14 Boeing E-3A Sentry operated jointly by member countries of the military alliance.
Surveillance and early warning aircraft in service with the organization will be phased out by 2035. Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Saab have responded to NATO’s request for information on “radar planes” so far.
The initial plan for the E-3 Sentry replacement program is to define “a new generation of surveillance and control capabilities for future multi-domain operations”. Further, the organization shall disclose the intended technical and performance requirements for the aircraft.
Boeing offers the E-7 Wedgetail, an aircraft based on the 737-700ER NG commercial jet, which uses a synthetic radar system.
Another US plane, but with turboprop engines, is the E-2D Hawkeye proposed by Northrop Grumman in its updated variant, but which keeps the antenna on a rotating platform on the fuselage.
Saab, in turn, responded to the request for information with the GlobalEye, a surveillance aircraft that uses the platform of Bombardier’s Global 6000 business jet.
Like the E-7, the Swedish sysyem uses a fixed antenna with the Erieye radar with steerable modules – developed by Saab itself.
Based on the Boeing 707, the E-3 Sentry has been in service with NATO since the 1980s as the alliance’s primary means of surveillance and air control.
The aircraft, however, is out of date and was recently withdrawn from service by the Royal Air Force. The US Air Force (USAF) has been rushing a program to replace its Sentry with the E-7 towards the end of the decade.