Joint press point

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Boeing International, Sir Michael Arthur

  • 27 Nov. 2019 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 28 Nov. 2019 11:16

(As delivered)

Good afternoon.

Today we are marking a major investment in NATO's fleet of AWACS surveillance aircraft.

Our 1 billion dollar contract with Boeing will modernise this aircraft, ensuring its service to 2035.

NATO AWACS have been our eyes in the sky, supporting our airborne operations for decades.

From patrolling American skies after 9/11, to our operations in Afghanistan, and as part of the Global Coalition against ISIS.

The modernisation will ensure NATO remains at the leading edge of technology.

It will provide AWACS with sophisticated new communications and networking capabilities.

So these aircraft can continue their vital mission and contribute to our security.


Sir Michael, I want to thank you for being here today.

Our contract with Boeing shows NATO's strong commitment to working with industry to keep our trans-Atlantic Alliance strong.

16 NATO Allies on both sides of the Atlantic are funding this modernisation.

And companies from Europe and North America are working together to provide high-tech capabilities.


NATO is an Alliance that continues to adapt.

So we are already thinking about the future of our surveillance and control capability.

We are planning the replacement of the AWACS in 2035.

Here again, NATO will work closely with industry.

We will consider how technologies – like artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and big data – can help NATO keep its edge.

As we begin to modernise our AWACS aircraft, the first of our new Alliance Ground Surveillance drones has arrived at its new home in Sigonella in Italy.

This will help NATO have the best possible intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

NATO is an important platform, where Allies can join forces and invest in new capabilities for our shared security.

We will continue to modernise and adapt our Alliance, both now and in the future.


Sir Michael,

Once again thank you for being here with us.

Your presence shows the strong trans-Atlantic ties and cooperation between NATO and industry.


Oana Lungescu [NATO Spokesperson] We have time for a few questions.  Please identify yourself and say who your question is addressed to.  If you want to raise your hands that always helps us identify your questions.  We'll go with ZDF at the end.  Please wait for the microphone.

Question: I'm Julia Rech from German television, ZDF.  My question is for the Secretary General.  Why did you do this event now, one week before the NATO Summit?  Is it also to show that the NATO is not braindead?

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: This is just one example of how NATO is modernising and this is something which has been planned for a while, the fact that we are able now to announce this contract.  NATO is adapting, NATO is agile, NATO is active, and the modernisation of the AWACS aircraft is demonstrating the agility and the strength of NATO. 

So, for me, this is part of a pattern we have seen, part of a greater adaptation of NATO which has been ongoing for a long time.  We are implementing the largest reinforcement, the largest modernisation of our Alliance in a generation.  And this modernisation of the AWACS is one example of that.

Oana Lungescu [NATO Spokesperson] Polish News Agency.

Question: Thank you, Christopher Sheshenko, Polish Press Agency.  The question not related to today's event but, if I may, we learned from a Reuters report that Turkey is blocking defence plans for the Baltic States and Poland.  I was wondering…  I think Turkey already confirmed that, I was wondering whether you could comment what would be your response to that, thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]: We have plans in place to defend and protect all Allies and our commitment to our collective defence clause is ironclad.  And not only do we have plans, but we actually have more ready forces, a modernised command structure and more modern capabilities than we had for decades. 

So, we have plans, but also the capabilities to protect all NATO Allies.  And again, the new modern AWACS aircraft is one part of that.  And the AWACS modernisation doesn’t only show that NATO is modernising, but it also demonstrates that North America and Europe are doing things together, because this is actually about bringing both the countries from both sides of the Atlantic together, but also industry from both North America and Europe together, and providing cutting-edge new capabilities as part of the modernisation programme for AWACS, a lot of new equipment into those planes.  The planes have been here for a long time, but the equipment, the capabilities are cutting-edge, extremely modern capabilities. 

I will not go into internal NATO discussions; the only thing I can say is that we have plans and we have the will and we have the capabilities to protect all Allies.