October 2023 | Content by Joby Benett, NAPMA PS - System Test Officer

NATO E-3A Combined Test Team Ready for Action

Since the inception of the Combined Test Team (CTT) in September 2022, a lot has been accomplished getting the joint Force-NAPMA team prepared to conduct Final Lifetime Extension Program (FLEP) lab and aircraft testing. There is still work to go but due to the support from Force organizations, from Flight Medicine through Infrastructure, the CTT is prepared to begin formal FLEP test activity in 2024.

Combined Test Team (CTT) in front of N1
© 2024 - NATO

The FLEP has seen its share of challenges. Delays creating the System Lab at GK, as well as modifying the first FLEP Aircraft (N-1) have pushed testing back a year. The FLEP prime contractor, Boeing, is closely coordinating with NAPMA and the CTT on the 2024 testing calendar and availability of these assets.

In the meantime, in addition to supporting FLEP test planning activities, the CTT Maintenance and Operations Sections, composed of Force Personnel, are actively engaged with current operations support. The cooperation required to balance the needs of the Force and the needs of the FLEP upgrade are discussed daily between Force and NAPMA CTT leadership.

The CTT Test Section is busy supporting the other NAPMA engineering teams (Hardware, Software, Information Assurance, etc.) as well as working with the Force on documentation needed to maintain and operate the N-1 aircraft once it arrives. A critical component of this is the Flight Publications needed to perform the N-1 Functional Check Flight (FCF) and the Ferry Flight from Tessera, Italy (Industry modification site) to MOB Geilenkirchen.

Another important on-going activity is mitigation planning with Boeing to determine which test and training can be conducted in USA facilities in 2024. These activities will incur a need for Force and NAPMA CTT member support and are intended to ensure a smoother phase of formal testing once the proper assets are in place at MOB Geilenkirchen. These activities will be de-conflicted and prioritized against the constant real-world requirements the Force currently faces.

In anticipation of beginning FLEP MOB Geilenkirchen test activities, the CTT will continue to coordinate internally amongst the sections and continue to work with the Force host organizations. The Lab and N-1 testing period will be very dynamic and provide the much needed data to complete successful modernization of the entire NE-3A fleet.

All rights are reserved to NAPMA - NATO AEW&C Programme Management Agency | NAPMA Website - Terms Of Use