Nov. 26 (UPI) -- NATO and Boeing will formally announce details of a $1 billion contract Wednesday for upgrades to Airborne Warning and Control System planes, the alliance said Tuesday.
The Wednesday contract will be signed in a formal ceremony at Melsbroek Airport in Brussels with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Sir Michael Arthur, President of Boeing International in attendance.
Stoltenberg confirmed to reporters last week that NATO was on the verge of inking a deal to modernize the AWACS fleet. He did not say what upgrades were needed.
"I can confirm that we will sign a contract upgrading, modernizing the AWACS fleet," Stoltenberg said last week ahead of a meeting of NATO ministers of foreign affairs. "This reflects the importance of modernizing our capabilities, including our common capabilities, as the AWACS fleet is."
NATO operates 14 AWACS planes, which detect enemy missiles and aircraft in NATO airspace, were introduced in 1982. The alliance intends to keep them in service until 2035. The alliance has used them to patrol the Mediterranean Sea and in missions against the Islamic State.
NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu also tweeted last week that the upgrades, in addition to receipt of the first of five Global Hawk surveillance drones in Sicily, "reflects how NATO is investing in high-tech capabilities."
While NATO is expected to replace the E-3 fleet after 2035, Stoltenberg did not indicate how that could happen aside from referencing the incoming Global Hawks as part of a modernization.