Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC)
NATO will define its new generation capability within the Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) project. Saab responded to a Request for Information (RFI) from NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency regarding a new generation of surveillance and control capabilities. Saab’s response is based on GlobalEye.
“Saab is a proven and trusted part of NATO’s defence industrial base and we are present in more than two thirds of the member nations. Our solutions, including GlobalEye, are from the outset developed to be compliant with NATO’s requirements. I am confident that we can contribute with important capabilities that will strengthen NATO and benefit the member countries,” says Carl-Johan Bergholm, head of Saab´s business area Surveillance.
GlobalEye is a multi-domain Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) solution with an array of active and passive sensors that provide long-range detection and identification of objects in air, at sea and over land. By providing real-time information to units in air forces, armies and navies, GlobalEye enables enhanced situational awareness of the surrounding areas and early detection of threats. It can also be used for non-military tasks such as leading and coordinating rescue missions during natural disasters or larger accidents at sea or on land.
The Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) has been NATO's key surveillance and control asset since the 1980s, and is planned to retire around 2035 after 50 years of service. To plan for the required follow-on capability, at the 2016 Summit in Warsaw, NATO launched Alliance Future Surveillance and Control (AFSC) specifically to develop options for future NATO surveillance and control capabilities.
Through this initiative, NATO is fundamentally redefining how it will conduct surveillance, and command and control in the future. In order to take account of future threats and emerging technologies, NATO is working with experts from science, technology, industry and the military fields to encourage innovative solutions. NATO is studying a range of new technologies and different options to replace the AWACS aircraft – NATO’s “eyes in the sky.” These could include different combinations of systems in the air, on land, at sea, in space, and in cyber space. NATO’s AFSC requirements could be met through a combination of national, multinational, and NATO-funded solutions. NATO has agreed high-level requirements to define what is needed from the future systems and to ensure Allied capabilities are able to operate as a fully integrated force. In this way, NATO is helping to inform future decisions by Allies for their long-term planning and acquiring new capabilities. In February 2017, the North Atlantic Council (NAC) initiated the AFSC Concept Stage with NSPA as the lead NATO agency to conduct studies and develop technical concepts. Through this work, NSPA is evaluating new technologies and exploring a system of systems approach including potential combinations of air, ground, maritime, and space systems working together to collect and share information. These studies will eventually help to inform decisions by NATO, individual Allies or multinational groups to acquire new systems in the future. All 30 NATO Allies currently cooperate in the planning and resourcing of this programme.
NSPA formed the AFSC Project Office with dedicated staff to manage the AFSC Concept Stage activities in close collaboration with other NATO bodies, Nations and Industry. In December 2018, NSPA achieved a major milestone: the NAC declared the first phase of the AFSC Concept Stage complete and agreed to advance into the second phase. In the second phase of the Concept Stage, AFSC will be awarding a series of contracts to develop and analyse the feasibility of potential concepts that will meet NATO's future requirements. The result of this phase will be an agreed Technical Concept that will be the basis for potential development and production programmes to be established in the last phase of the Concept Stage – Programme Establishment.
At the end of March 2020, six Allied companies’ consortia delivered concept studies, providing initial views on how NATO could meet the AFSC requirements by 2035.
- Airbus Defence and Space;
- Boeing, with Indra, Inmarsat, Leonardo, and Thales;
- General Atomics;
- L3Harris with 3SDL, Deloitte Consulting, Hensoldt Sensors, IBM, Musketeer Solutions, Synergeticon and Videns;
- Lockheed Martin;
- MDA Systems, with General Dynamics Mission Systems
NATO assessed these concepts in order to define a more narrow scope for AFSC before the end of 2020. In 2021, NATO launched a call for a second round of more detailed studies to assess the feasibility of the proposed concepts. Starting in 2023, NATO would analyse the proposed AFSC concept against the Alliance’s inventory of capabilities to help determine where new developments may be needed.
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