AWACS For United Kingdom and France
In March 1986, Boeing was invited to respond to a proposal by the United Kingdom seeking replacement candidates for the Nimrod airborne early warning system. Boeing proposed the existing AWACS standard configuration, with system improvements such as CFM-56 engines, and other enhancements to respond to particular Royal Air Force specifications.
In September 1986, the Ministry of Defence narrowed the field of seven AEW candidates to the E-3 and Nimrod. In December, the MOD announced its decision to purchase a minimum of six E-3s. A final contract was signed in February 1987.
The Republic of France joined with the United Kingdom in its evaluation of competing systems, continuing French interest in the capabilities of the E-3 that dates back to the late 1970s. In December 1986, Boeing submitted a proposal for an E-3 purchase to the ministry of defence. In February 1987, the French government announced an order for a minimum of three E-3s, to be configured similarly to those planned for Britain.
Both sales were made directly by Boeing to the respective governments. The two countries also announced they would jointly manage their AWACS procurement, and established the Joint Anglo-French Management Office.
By fall 1987, both countries also had exercised contract options for one additional E-3 each, bringing to 11 the total of AWACS on order for delivery beginning in the spring of 1991. The first U.K. AWACS was delivered in March 1991, the first French AWACS in May 1991. France received its final E-3 in February 1992, and the U.K. deliveries were complete in May 1992.
Along with the ability to operate with the worldwide AWACS fleet, Britain and France gained acquisition cost savings associated with purchases in the same period of time.
Enhancements added to meet each country's mission requirements include a probe system to augment the existing boom receptacle for inflight refueling, a digital recorder for mission audio transmissions and improved radio equipment.
Additionally, the U.K. system includes ESM, and the radar is upgraded with maritime scan-to-scan (MSSC) capability. The U.K. also has joined the U.S. in adding RSIP to upgrade their radar. Retrofit of the fleet was completed in December 2000. Along with the RSIP upgrade was installation of the Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation Systems which dramatically improve positioning accuracy.
The French adopted the U.S. (Boeing) ESM system as their first major E-3 upgrade. Boeing received a contract in March 1998 to install the electronic support measures. Work was completed in December 2000.
In 2002, Boeing was awarded a contract to add RSIP to the French AWACS fleet. Installation was completed in 2006.