September 2022 | Content by Scott Jones, NAPMO Executive Secretary

Do You Know Me? – I’m the B-O-D!

Look … up into the sky … it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s … the NAPMO Board of Directors …
the B-O-D!
Ok, the B-O-D is not Superman, but for over 40 years the BOD has governed one of the most successful international programmes in history, the world’s first multi-national, fully integrated Air Force – “NATO’s Air Force.” The NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) Programme Management Organization (NAPMO) Board of Directors has authority over the management and governance of the NATO AEW&C Programme, particularly in the technical, initial support, financial and contractual areas.

As a result of the unique arrangements under which the Nations have agreed, NAPMO is actually the owner of our fleet of technically sophisticated aircraft. No single nation acts alone to ensure that the NE-3As maintain operational viability. The collective NATO responsibility in this regard continues to rest with the NAPMO Nations.

The NAPMO BOD consists of one member from each participating Nation. There are a total of 16 voting NAPMO nations that include BEL, CZE, DNK, DEU, GRC, HUN, ITA, LUX, NLD, NOR, POL, PRT, ROU, ESP, TUR, and the USA. Additionally, the UK has limited participation and FRA is an observer. Chaired by Ms. Amy Cagli, from the United States of America, the NAPMO BOD is supported by three committees: the Operations, Plans, and Logistics (OPL) Committee; the Policy and Finance (PF) Committee; and the Airworthiness Review Board (ARB); all compositions are similar to that of the BOD. The NAPMO BOD meets a minimum of twice per year to review the Programme, address major issues, and to provide policy guidance and strategic direction. The Committees meet a few weeks prior to each BOD meeting to review issues and provide recommendations within their respective sphere of expertise. This governance structure utilizes the NAEW&C Programme Management Agency (NAPMA) as the NAPMO executive agent, with their defined role of executing NE-3A modernisations efforts established and approved by the BOD.

In June 2022, the BOD met for the 143rd time since 1978, at the NAPMA facility in Brunssum, The Netherlands. This meeting marked the first time since COVID that the BOD met in-person and enjoyed a NE-3A static display and a tour of the remote tower hosted by the Force Command personnel at Geilenkirchen Airbase. A key emphasis item being worked by the BOD is the national staffing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Operations and Support of the NAEW&C Force from now until fleet retirement projected in the 2035 timeframe. The document reflects the updates necessary due to changes to the NATO Command Structure, the NATO airworthiness framework, as well as the configuration management process.

Since the NAEW&C Programme was authorised in 1978, the strategic situation has changed and NATO’s missions have evolved. Responding to changing environments and supporting future NATO operational tasking presents continuous challenges. Responsive to continued mission effectiveness, in 2019 the BOD approved, directed, and funded another modernization of new operational capabilities for the NE-3A fleet. The Final Lifetime Extension Programme, or FLEP, is planned to be the last major upgrade to the NE-3A fleet. Thanks to the NAPMO BOD, the Force and all those working FLEP, the fleet will remain relevant well into the 2030s.

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