NATO has begun initial deliberations for upgrading the alliance’s surveillance-aircraft fleet, with an eye toward improving its missile-defense capabilities.
At issue is the way forward in replacing the alliance-owned Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft — Boeing E-3 Sentry planes commonly known by the acronym AWACS — sometime in the 2030s. Given the expectation of a long acquisition process for the project, some officials believe that the time is now to begin planning.
Defense acquisition leaders from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy discussed plans on April 2 at a so-called Five Powers meeting in Brussels, according to the gathering’s written agenda prepared for participants.
The NATO Industrial Advisory Group, a panel of defense-industry executives providing counsel on military hardware, has additionally begun studying what kinds of new technologies should go into the next-generation aircraft, according to the summary of a March 31 meeting obtained by Global Security Newswire.
While there is not yet a formal, alliance-approved requirements list for the new plane, supporting theater-level missile defense is among the operational scenarios envisioned for the new capability, according to the document. One NATO insider said under consideration is the fielding of missile-tracking sensors that would detect incoming projectiles and supply ground-based interceptors with targeting data.
Such a capability — along with other planned enhancements for areas like maritime surveillance, intelligence support, or the command and control of forces — would take the envisioned upgrades “far beyond” what the alliance’s current AWACS fleet can do, the insider said. The source spoke with GSN on condition of anonymity to offer more candor on the emerging trans-Atlantic topic, which is expected to come up at the September NATO summit in Wales.
An interim report by the industry advisers is expected in August; the final version is due in April 2015.
Some AWACS planes were dispatched to conduct surveillance flights over Poland and Romania last month amid tensions with Russia over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
“This employment increases the understanding of what is happening in the region, including in Ukraine, for NATO allies,” the alliance said on its website.
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With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."