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NATO selects Australia’s Wedgetail for replacement AWACS program

written by Stephen Kuper | November 16, 2023

Australia’s E-7A Wedgetail has been selected by NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) to fulfil the Initial Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (I-AFSC) capability.

It was a hard slog, but the proof is in the pudding following an announcement by NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) that it will work with the United States Government via a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) case to acquire 6 Boeing E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Wedgetail aircraft.

NATO’s current Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet, a key surveillance and control asset based on the Boeing 707-based E-3 Sentry platform, is scheduled to retire around 2035.

The replacement is part of the initial Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (iAFSC) capability, which will see the Wedgetail become part of an integration into the overall Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) systems capability.


NATO’s iAFSC acquisition strategy plans to deliver the requirements defined by the NATO strategic commands and to meet the operational needs of NATO and nations.

This approach recognises the benefits of economies of scale, commonality and interoperability deriving from multinational acquisition of military off-the-shelf platforms, the acquisition program also ensures a smooth transition from the existing capability across other lines of development and into the future.

North Atlantic Council’s Ms Stacy Cummings, NSPA general manager, said, “This announcement marks a significant milestone in NATO’s ongoing efforts to enhance its readiness and capabilities in the years to come. NSPA’s acquisition strategy of a sole source, FMS, multinational solution is set to deliver a range of benefits that will bolster the Alliance’s ability to respond to evolving security challenges.”

NSPA, along with NATO and national experts conducted a rigorous assessment process, assessing industry’s responses to requests for information and price and availability, as well as the capabilities of firms identified on the NSPA Source File. This included defence industry research, including comparable AEW&C acquisition programmes in Australia, South Korea, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Comment (1)

  • Lance Cousins


    Is Australia getting appropriate returns from all the extensive development work that went in to achieving this highly regarded platform?

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