Leonardo’s Airborne Software-defined Radio Selected by Boein

Leonardo has been awarded a contract by Boeing to provide its new software-defined radio, the ‘SWave® Airborne SDR SRT-800’ for NATO’s fleet of E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft. One of the few military assets that are owned and operated directly by NATO, the AWACS fleet is being modernized by Boeing to maintain its operational viability until 2035 under the Final Life Extension Program (FLEP).

Leonardo’s SRT-800 will provide the AWACS fleet with a secure and cyber-resilient air-to-air and air-to-ground link. This security is becoming increasingly critical to all types of military operations as cyber attacks continue to be a clear and present threat. Available for civilian and military customers, the SRT-800’s low size, weight and power requirements allow it to be mounted on most fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, manned or unmanned. Ideal for retrofitting, a single SRT-800 radio replaces a number of avionics that have traditionally been separate units, including UHF/VHF radio, SATCOM, SINCGARS and crypto unit.

Under the contract, Boeing will integrate the SWave® Airborne SDR SRT-800 into the mission system of the E-3A aircraft. Because the radios are software defined, they can then be completely reconfigured when needed via a software update without having to modify the hardware. This makes the radios extremely flexible as they can be modified easily and cheaply. It should be noted that the radios are compliant with the Software Communication Architecture (SCA) standard for maximum flexibility.

Originally designed as an elevated radar platform, the E-3A evolved over 30 years to meet the realities of geopolitical change. NATO’s Air Early Warning and Control Force has become an essential part of the Alliance’s air battle management capabilities and continues to remain operationally viable through successive modernization programmes. Leonardo’s SWave® Airborne SDR SRT-800 will ensure that NATO’s AWACS fleet will continue to be able to communicate in a secure, cyber-resilient manner until the 2035 decommissioning date.

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