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Boeing Completes Comms Upgrade on Saudi AWACS

ST. LOUIS --- The Boeing Company has completed a major communications upgrade on the first of five Saudi E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft as part of a $49.2 million contract.

Installation and checkout of the aircraft were performed at the Boeing Military Flight Center in Seattle. The enhancement, known as Link 16, is a secure, jam-resistant, digital data link that allows military aircraft, ships and ground units to exchange tactical pictures in near real time. Link 16 also supports the exchange of text messages and imagery data and provides additional channels for digital voice.

The Link 16 AWACS upgrade is the first in a series of anticipated technology upgrades to the Saudi AWACS fleet.

"This powerful capability provides the Saudi fleet with a secure data and voice link, allowing direct communication between their AWACS aircraft and forward-positioned fighter aircraft," said Mark Mills, Saudi AWACS program manager for Boeing.

Boeing partner Alsalam Aircraft Co. will upgrade the remaining four aircraft in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with Boeing on-site support. The fleet upgrade is scheduled to be completed in December 2009.

Alsalam is one of the largest and most experienced maintenance, repair and overhaul companies in the Gulf region for military and commercial customers. The company provides aircraft maintenance and modification services -- including VIP interior design and installation -- for a wide range of aircraft, including 737s, Boeing Business Jets, 747s, 727s and L-1011s, for customers in the Middle East, Africa, Pakistan and the United States. The company also works on military platforms such as the F-15 Eagle, AH-64 Apache and the BAE Systems-supplied Tornado aircraft.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $32.1 billion business with 71,000 employees worldwide.

Boeing Completes Communications Modification on Saudi AWACS Aircraft