HomeNewsArticle Display

Flying with DRAGON improves capabilities

An E-3 Sentry (AWACS), with an upgraded Flight Management System Suite, takes off for a test flight in Kent, Wash., April 20, 2016. The upgrades, being managed by a program office at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., eliminate diminishing manufacturing source issues, ensure compliance with current and future air traffic control requirements, and automate the navigation function, allowing for a reduction in cockpit crew from four to three. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)

An E-3 Sentry (AWACS), with an upgraded Flight Management System Suite, takes off for a test flight in Kent, Wash., April 20, 2016. The upgrades, being managed by a program office at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., eliminate diminishing manufacturing source issues, ensure compliance with current and future air traffic control requirements, and automate the navigation function, allowing for a reduction in cockpit crew from four to three. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- A recent successful test flight of an upgraded Flight Management System Suite for the E-3 Sentry (AWACS) provides the warfighter with enhanced battle management capabilities.

AWACS aircraft provide an integrated command and control battle management, surveillance, target detection, and tracking platform. The aircraft provides an accurate, real-time picture of the battlespace to the Joint Air Operations Center.

The upgrade provides three principal benefits to the warfighter. It ensures compliance with current and future air traffic control requirements, giving the aircraft broader access to conduct battle management operations in airspace around the world. It resolves non-sustainable analog equipment with commercially viable digital avionics, replacing 1970s-era systems; and it also reduces cockpit crew personnel from four to three by automating the navigation function.

"The cockpit upgrade will make the AWACS fleet operationally ready for worldwide deployments, meeting all the new air traffic management mandates for the ever-increasingly congested international airspace -- while reducing the logistical footprint and increasing cost savings," said Collin Manzo, the engineering and manufacturing development program manager.

The test flight took place on April 20 at Boeing Field in Kent, Washington, as part of the Air Force's CNS/ATM DRAGON, program, which stands for Communication, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management Diminishing Manufacturing Sources Replacement of Avionics for Global Operations and Navigation. Officials have said the benefits springboard the AWACS platform into the future while reducing overall system maintenance and sustainability costs.

"The modernized flight deck is more user-intuitive, with full-color glass displays that enable customizable engine, navigation and radar information," said Gwen LaMuro, the DRAGON program manager. "This enhanced avionics system suite utilizes commercial, off-the-shelf equipment which eliminates diminishing manufacturing source issues, provides a commercially available replacement solution and reduces sustainability risk to the AWACS platform."

The program now enters the flight test qualification phase to prove out any unique Air Force requirements. Following that, program managers anticipate delivery of modified D1 aircraft to the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in May 2017. There, the aircraft will undergo government operation test and evaluation and then production modification for the rest of the fleet, to be accomplished by the depot staff at Tinker AFB beginning in 2018.

The CNS/ATM DRAGON program is a cooperative program between the U.S. and NATO. NATO's first aircraft, known as N1, completed testing in April and is nearing completion of the full EMD phase.

"This program is a great example of international cooperation benefiting both partners, as the U.S. and NATO AWACS fleets are about 95 percent common in design," LaMuro said. "We have incorporated the efficiencies and learned lessons from the NATO N1 aircraft in the U.S. Air Force aircraft design, reducing the overall shared costs by tens of millions of dollars for both stakeholders. This truly culminates a successful relationship between NATO and the U.S. and these modifications ensure the critical capability AWACS provides to our warfighters and allies around the world."

Engage

Facebook Twitter
.@GenDaveGoldfein: "You are valued. We need you. Your family needs you. The Air Force needs you." https://t.co/jioda8dKvY
RT @SecAFOfficial: We thank Matt Donovan for 40+ yrs of dedication to the #USAF. His leadership will continue to be vital to taking care of…
RT @DeptofDefense: For three decades, Ara Shishmanian served his country in the @USAFReserve. He also serves in the classroom. Press ▶️ to…
RT @AETCommand: #BehindTheScenes - Command Chief Master Sergeant training course students at @HQAirUniversity learn about leadership, commu…
RT @thejointstaff: Watch today's change of responsibility ceremony, hosted by #GenMilley, live @ 10 a.m. EST on Twitter. @SEAC_Troxell wil…
RT @HQ_AFMC: 📽️We're back to the @Afresearchlab for Day 10 of #24DaysAFMC. This year they tested a state-of-the-art rocket #engine preburne…
RT @16AF_AFCYBER: The holiday season is a prime time for online thieves to take advantage of weaknesses in shoppers' devices to extract per…
RT @USAFCENT: ALWAYS READY | Members of the 823d Expeditionary Base Defense Squadron test their combat life-saving skills during a medical…
Nearly 10,000 participants from around the world took part in the 2019 Military World Games in Wuhan, China. And… https://t.co/CRYacyFtEJ
Ever heard of the rule of 0-0-1-3? No. Well it means to have zero alcohol if you're underage, zero drinks if you're… https://t.co/7bNRnhYuWS
RT @HQ_AFMC: #Readiness was on display by our @AFResearchLab teams during a live-virtual-constructive training simulation, enabling #Airmen
RT @AFWERX: We can't wait for 2020: The @USAirForce Advanced Manufacturing Olympics is slated for July 8-9 in Salt Lake City & will bring t…
RT @AirNatlGuard: “The Silver Flag training sites provide our Airmen with real-world scenarios to reinforce our Air Force Specialty Code sk…
RT @US_TRANSCOM: Watch a @usairforce KC-10A refuel, and be refueled during same mission in support of @CJTFOIR. #Togetherwdeliver #NKAWTG #…
RT @AETCommand: Transforming the way we learn with technology is one of our key priorities here in the First Command! Check out the photos…
RT @AirNatlGuard: This week, @ChiefNGB visited the @PRNationalGuard at Muñiz Air National Guard Base to meet with senior leaders and discus…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: YOU are the most important reason for our mission success. Take care of each other & preserve the connections & commun…