Military Increases ADS-B Out Upgrades

by Matthew Beres, Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Analyst, Forecast International.

Boeing C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft (Source: Boeing)

Raytheon was recently awarded a $30 million ceiling increase modification to a previously awarded contract for T-38A/B, C-17, C-5, and A-10 Automatic Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B Out) upgrades.

As part of a U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) initiative to fund avionics improvements to the U.S. civil air fleet, the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system provides flight crews with high-precision, real‑time representations of air traffic data, which are received from a satellite network.  The system also allows access to weather services, terrain maps, and other navigational tools.  The heightened level of awareness allows more aircraft to operate in the same airspace without any additional risk to safety. The FAA hopes the system will allow aircraft to maintain safe distances from one another while requiring less assistance from air traffic controllers.

ADS-B Out is already mandated in some regional airspace and is mandated per DO-260B for retrofit aircraft in Europe and the U.S. by 2020.

Many operators will wait until the last minute to upgrade their fleets. As the clock ticks closer to 2020, upgrade demand will surge, as will the cost of the upgrades.

Just in February 2018, Rockwell Collins was awarded a contract to provide ADS-B Out upgrades of 32 military aircraft models. The FY19 budget includes a number of line items dedicated to ADS-B Out upgrades. Many of these programs are being expedited and provided with larger budgets in order to meet the 2020 deadline – or at the very least to prevent upgrades from extending too long past the deadline.

While the civilian aircraft market is highly profitable for ADS-B Out upgrade providers, the military market is also quite significant. A certain number of military aircraft will likely fail to meet the 2020 deadline. This will push upgrade programs past the original deadline, as well as extend the timeline of this upgrade market.


Forecast International’s Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Forecast provides operators in the military and commercial aviation sectors with the information they need to maximize their current investments rather than expand their fleets, a trend that is opening up multiple opportunities for the expansion of retrofit and modernization programs. It offers a one-stop service for tracking the status of commercial and military R&M programs in progress worldwide, and pinpoints key developments in the aviation industry that will impact the market in the future.