Air Force scraps $76 million Boeing contract to upgrade surveillance plane's radar

An AWACS surveillance aircraft.


By TONY CAPACCIO | Bloomberg | Published: November 6, 2018

The Air Force terminated a Boeing contract to update the radar on its flagship AWACS surveillance aircraft after the company encountered major delays in developing hardware and software, according to budget documents.

Instead of continuing the $76 million contract with Boeing, "the Air Force determined the best approach for providing this critical capability would be to replace the legacy radar processor and its related components," Capt. Hope Cronin, a service spokeswoman, said in an email. "Several companies responded to the Air Force's request for information, and a request for proposal is currently being developed."

Boeing was on contract to provide improved radar processing "in a specific flight environment to meet a classified requirement," for its E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System surveillance aircraft, Cronin said. The modified 707-320 commercial planes are recognized by their saucer-shaped, rotating radar domes that can spot and classify aircraft as far as 250 miles away.

The Air Force's Life Cycle Management Center, which manages the development of weapons systems, issued a partial stop-work order in January and terminated the contract in May. The termination had not been previously disclosed.

"Boeing estimated several additional years and an additional $60 million would be needed to complete the project," Cronin said.

Kelly Kaplan, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Boeing, said in an email that the company and the Air Force "have been partnered since the first days of the AWACS program. We're committed to supporting a robust AWACS fleet capability for many years to come."

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