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Military Aviation News from Around The World

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Steve Davies
ST. LOUIS, July 15, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has completed a major communications upgrade on the first of five Saudi E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft as part of a $49.2 million contract.

Installation and checkout of the aircraft were performed at the Boeing Military Flight Center in Seattle. The enhancement, known as Link 16, is a secure, jam-resistant, digital data link that allows military aircraft, ships and ground units to exchange tactical pictures in near real time. Link 16 also supports the exchange of text messages and imagery data and provides additional channels for digital voice.

The Link 16 AWACS upgrade is the first in a series of anticipated technology upgrades to the Saudi AWACS fleet.

"This powerful capability provides the Saudi fleet with a secure data and voice link, allowing direct communication between their AWACS aircraft and forward-positioned fighter aircraft," said Mark Mills, Saudi AWACS program manager for Boeing.

Boeing partner Alsalam Aircraft Co. will upgrade the remaining four aircraft in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with Boeing on-site support. The fleet upgrade is scheduled to be completed in December 2009.

Steve Davies
ST. LOUIS, July 11, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA], U.S. Army leaders, supplier representatives and other guests celebrated the first flight of the AH-64D Apache Block III helicopter this week in Mesa, Ariz. Just prior to a ceremony attended by more than 300 people at the company's Apache production facility, the aircraft was flown by two Apache-rated aviators -- U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody and an Army experimental test pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Rucie Moore.

"This milestone is a testament to the tremendous team effort of Team Apache -- the U.S. Army, our worldwide industry suppliers and Boeing," said Al Winn, Boeing vice president of Apache Programs. "The technologies incorporated into the Block III helicopter come from a cross-section of the best of industry."

Experimental test pilots -- one U.S. Army soldier and one Boeing teammate -- initially flew this Block III prototype aircraft over the Arizona desert on June 27 in preparation for today's ceremony, which commemorates the success of engineers, production teams and program managers in keeping the Apache Block III program on time and on budget.

Ensuring the continued relevance of this rotorcraft platform for the warfighter, Apache Block III technologies deliver network-centric communications capabilities, extended ranges for sensors and weapons, unmanned aerial systems connectivity and control, and enhanced aircraft performance. The Block III technologies have been successfully tested and matured through a planned process of continuous modernization used since the delivery of the first AH-64A model to the U.S. Army in January 1984 and throughout the deliveries of AH-64A Apaches and AH-64D Apache Longbows to the Army and the defense forces of 10 nations around the world.

"Built upon a legacy of success, the Apache Block III will deliver mission-critical performance capabilities to U.S. Army aviators, facilitating successful operations across the spectrum of conflict," U.S. Army Apache Project Manager Col. Derek Paquette said to Boeing teammates who worked to build the helicopter.

The Army awarded Boeing the first Apache Block III contract in June 2005. In accordance with contractual milestones, Boeing plans to begin Low Rate Initial Production in April 2010 and to deliver the first production AH-64D Apache Block III in June 2011.

Steve Davies
Boeing to Demo Net-Centric Upgrade on AWACS Aircraft at Empire Challenge

ST. LOUIS, July 08, 2008 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has integrated network-centric capabilities into two operational U.S. Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft for a demonstration at Empire Challenge 2008, a joint military exercise being held July 7 through Aug. 1 in China Lake, Calif. The modifications were completed in early June, followed by operator training and a pre-exercise test flight.

The two AWACS aircraft, part of the U.S. Air Force's fleet of 32, are assigned to the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

The network-centric modifications allow greater use of AWACS mission data, better access to external Web services data and an enhanced suite of battle-management tools. All are enabled by increased processing capability and modern mission-computing software.

The modifications include the high-speed Tactical Targeting Network Technology system, which will connect the aircraft to other assets throughout the airborne battlespace. The aircraft also will connect with battle managers on the ground through a longer range Beyond Line-of-Sight system called Inmarsat.

In addition to their standard system display, the AWACS operators at Empire Challenge will have a second display accessible from their existing keyboard. This auxiliary display offers network-access services such as chat, tracking of friendly forces, Air Tasking Order updates and the status of time-critical targets. The display also will show air tracks and weapon-target pairing using the new Block 40/45 Primary AWACS Display -- giving senior military leaders and other decision makers a preview of the 40/45 mission system upgrade that is now nearing the end of its System Development and Demonstration phase for the Air Force. Boeing is the upgrade's prime integrator.

The AWACS 40/45 upgrade will enable increased mission effectiveness for the air battle management operators onboard as they collaborate with airborne fighters and with ground controllers. This increased capability is one of the key objectives to be evaluated during Empire Challenge 2008.

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