The french Awacs pass under Windows 7

Awacs-français-2After the United States, aircraft radars Boeing E-3F french are being be modernised. These are brought to the standard Block 40/45. Main amendments to the 4 had the army of French Air, a new IFF and especially a new mission system. Their computer system, from another age, straight from the mainframe IBM will be replaced by servers and Windows positions and an Ethernet network.

An obsolete embedded computing

Do you remember which computer you had on your desktop in 1987? No doubt an IBM PC/AT 386 with MS-DOS 3.3 in your business, maybe even under Windows 2.0 at the end of the year, an Amstrad CPC 5512 at home. This is the year where the France commanded 4 radar aircraft to Boeing E – 3F derived from the Boeing 707, had quickly nicknamed the Awacs. More than 25 years after their delivery, these aircraft were not replaced and still fly. Needless to say that the information is now completely obsolete.

The edge of a software architecture E - 3F before its MLU update.

The edge of a software architecture E – 3F before its MLU update.

In 1973, Boeing designed the E-3 “Sentry” for the US Air Force from its four-engined Jet 707. This is Westinghouse Electric, which will design the rotating radar AN/APY-1 installed on the back of the device. Boeing turned to IBM and Hazeltine to equip the aircraft of a computer of mission and 10 computer consoles. It is an IBM 4PI computer that is installed in the device. A choice while there is rational. It is this type of computer that is embedded in the B-52, Skylab and the space shuttle. A solution that has been proven, and for good reason as it is no less an embedded IBM 370 mainframe.

The 4 french Awacs updated by end 2016

The brain of the E – 3F, French version of the Awacs, was therefore based on a computer and from terminals to a line of computers of the 1960s. So, it was time to modernize the radar aircraft that the US Air Force, the Air Force and the Royal Air Force, NATO, the Saudi Arabia team. All users are now conducting a MLU (MidLife Upgrade) of their devices to the Block 40/45 standard proposed by Boeing. A new standard developed for the US Air Force and incorporates inter alia a new identification device IFF Mode 5 with new encryption algorithms and a mode S that allows it to examine civil aircraft.

One of the 4 E - 3F Awacs Sentry purchased by France to Boeing since 1987. (Photo: Boeing)

One of the 4 E – 3F Awacs Sentry purchased by France to Boeing since 1987. (Photo: Boeing)

The E – 3 block 40/45 have new means of communications, tracking, as well as a new computer system of edge algorithms. The old mainframe IBM 4PI gives way to a more modern and more classical infrastructure: PCs and Windows servers and an Ethernet network. Machinery purchased “off-the-shelf” (COTS). The number of posts for operators changes from 10 to 14 and the UI will make a leap forward with Windows 7. Drop-down menus finally replace the buttons arranged around the screens.
The France served Boeing a contract of $ 466 million in 2010 to update its E – 3F 4. The modernization construction is conducted in the hangars of Air France Industries, which ensures the installation of the new equipment of the aircraft that carry the tricolour Cockade. The first modernized aircraft was delivered on July 17, 2014, the other by 2016.

Translation : Bing Translator

Sources :

“Cure de jeunesse pour les Awacs”, Air&Cosmos, 20 août 2014
France Upgrading Their E-3F AWACS“, DefenseIndustryDaily, July 31, 2014
Armée de l’Air : livraison d’un premier Awacs modernisé“, Air&Cosmos, July 22, 2014
Implementing COTS Open Systems Technology on AWACS“, Field Report, September 2000

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