WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A dispute over budgeting processes could delay NATO’s efforts to finalize a $1 billion contract to extend the life of 14 aging Boeing E-3A surveillance aircraft, often called NATO’s “eyes in the sky,” sources familiar with the program said.
NATO officials have invited the 16 member nations in the Airborne Warning & Control System, or AWACS, program to an extraordinary meeting on Sept. 12 to mark the program’s 40th anniversary and resolve the budget dispute, the sources said.
Issue - Contract - Boeing - Time - Dec
Unless the issue is resolved soon, the contract will not be awarded to Boeing in time to be announced as planned at the Dec. 3-4 NATO summit in London, the sources said.
“It’s disappointing that a one-sided interpretation of the rules is putting this much-needed upgrade program at risk,” said one of the sources.
Upgrades - Airplanes - Radar - Domes - Fuselage
The upgrades would keep the 1979/1980-era airplanes, with their distinctive radar domes on the fuselage, flying until 2035. NATO needs the planes to carry out missions such as air policing, evacuations and counter-terrorism operations.
A second source said the dispute was not expected to kill the upgrade program outright, but could well push a contract award to Boeing off until next year, marking a setback for the U.S. contractor at a time when it still is struggling to get its 737 MAX commercial airplane back in the air.
NAPMA - NATO - Agency - AWACS - Fleet
NAPMA, the NATO agency that manages the AWACS fleet, said in June it expected to finalize by December a $750 million contract with Boeing to extend the life of the aircraft through...
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