Boeing has completed a 15-month phase of mission system flight testing for the E-3 AWACS Block 40/45 upgrade program aboard a test aircraft, the company announced Sept. 10. Completion of the tests finishes the program’s system design and development phase, clearing the way for the Air Force to make a production decision by the end of the year, the company said. “Test data indicate the Block 40/45 system meets or exceeds all its key performance parameters and technical performance requirements,” said Stu Oliason, Boeing’s Block 40/45 SDD program manager. The Block 40/45 program replaces the E-3’s legacy mainframe computer with an open system architecture that enables operator console displays that are more intuitive and user friendly. The new computer also automates tasks for the AWACS operators, replacing what has been a manually intensive workload for them.
Unlike nearly every other innovative technology throughout history, Maj. Gen. DeAnna M. Burt believes the space enterprise emerged backward. “Every other domain started with an entrepreneur who built something,” Burt, the special assistant to the Chief of Space Operations, told an audience at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference.