Leonardo’s airborne software-defined radio selected by Boeing to equip NATO’s AWACS fleet


  • The fleet of E-3A early warning and control aircraft is being modernized to maintain its viability until 2035.
  • By protecting communications from cyberattacks, Leonardo’s SWave® Airborne SDR SRT-800 radios will provide the aircraft with secure and resistant cyber voice, data and tactical communication.
  • Available for civilian and military customers, the compact and lightweight SRT-800 can equip most fixed and rotary wings, manned or unmanned

Leonardo has contracted with Boeing to provide its new software-defined radio, the SWave® Airborne SDR SRT-800 ?? for the NATO E-3A Air Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet. One of the few military assets owned and operated directly by NATO, the AWACS fleet is being upgraded by Boeing to maintain its operational viability until 2035 under the Final Life Extension Program (FLEP).

The Leonardo SRT-800 will provide the AWACS fleet with a secure and cyber-resistant air-to-air and air-to-ground connection. This security is becoming increasingly important for all types of military operations, as cyberattacks remain a clear and current threat. Available to civilian and military customers, the SRT-800’s small size, weight and power requirements allow it to be mounted on most fixed and rotary wings, manned or unmanned. Ideal for upgrades, the SRT-800 radio replaces a number of avionics that have traditionally been separate units, including UHF / VHF radio, SATCOM, SINCGARS and a crypto device.

Under the agreement, Boeing will integrate the SWave® Airborne SDR SRT-800 into the E-3A’s mission system. Because the radios are software-defined, they can be completely reconfigured if necessary by updating the software without having to modify the hardware. This makes radios extremely versatile, as they can be modified simply and cheaply. It should be noted that the radios are compliant with the Software Communication Architecture (SCA) standard for maximum flexibility.

Originally designed as a raised radar platform, the E-3A has evolved over 30 years to meet the realities of geopolitical change. The NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force has become an essential part of the Alliance’s ability to manage air combat and remains operational through successive modernization programs. Leonardo’s SWave® Airborne SDR SRT-800 will ensure that NATO’s AWACS fleet continues to be able to communicate in a secure, cyber-resistant mode until its decommissioning in 2035.

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