Adding more capabilities and offering maximum value

In recent years, the NATO Alliance has faced increasing security challenges. The very nature of the potential threats are changing, including terrorism, Unmanned Air Vehicles, cyber security, conflicts in out-of-area operations, and proliferation of Ballistic Missile technology. To manage the evolving threat environment NATO requires a robust Command and Control System that provides a multi-layer defence shield.


It is in this context that ThalesRaytheonSystems designed and delivered the Air Command and Control System (ACCS) to provide NATO with the flexibility it needs to face future challenges. The system represents NATO’s first-ever integrated ACCS, successfully laying the groundwork for a long-term and trusted cooperation.


ACCS changes the face of air operations in Europe, providing NATO with a comprehensive approach that spans planning, tasking, monitoring and mission execution.


The system replaces a multitude of national and NATO systems, offering common training opportunities, standard operating procedures and more centralized maintenance for all NATO members, thereby lowering system support costs while boosting manning flexibility.

+400 sensor site connections

To create a Joint Environment Picture (JEP), currently the ACCS system sites integrate about +400 sensor sites, and multiple Data Link connections. The JEP information is shared across the ACCS communications network ensuring common situational awareness.

ACCS is designed to ensure NATO interoperability with legacy systems and with other evolving NATO capabilities. ACCS is fully NATO Standards based and compliant with NATO Architecture Framework and non-proprietary formats for data exchange and information sharing. This approach will enable interface connections to future systems such as Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS), Friendly Force Tracking (FFT) and Ballistic Missile Defense systems.


The ACCS system today has been installed in a total of 17 locations. The ARS at Poggio Renatico Italy, and the NATO Ballistic Missile Defense Operations Center at Ramstein Germany have been in operational use starting in 2014. The remaining installed sites, including the CAOC at Uedem Germany, are in various stages of testing and transition to operations.

The ACCS program also provides NATO with a capability to support Air C2 for deployable operations. The Deployable ARS (DARS) based at Poggio Renatico in Italy and in operational use since 2014, is part of NATO’s Deployable Air Command and Control Center and is an important resource for NATO out-of-area operations or training. . The DARS has the same basic operating software and the same overall capabilities as the static ACCS sites that are based in the NATO nations and provides the tactical level of air operations for Surveillance, Identification, Tactical Data Links, Air Mission Control and Air Traffic Control.

Theatre Missile Defense System

During the Istanbul Summit in 2004, NATO leaders identified the need for a Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) program aimed at protecting NATO deployed forces. Later, at the Lisbon Summit held in 2010, NATO made the decision to expand the program to enhance collective defense by including NATO European populations, territory and forces. This need materialized in 2011 when ThalesRaytheonSystems was awarded a contract to deliver throughout three major increments the Air Command and Control System (ACCS) Theatre Missile Defense (TMD) component of NATO’s Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defense (ALTBMD) capability.

The NATO Steadfast Alliance exercise held in April 2016 served to put the entire BMD system to the test, from crisis simulation to the interception of missiles by national BMD systems taking part in the exercise (SEW, Aegis, Patriot and SAMP/T).

This exercise clearly demonstrated ACCS TMD1’ Ballistic Missile Defense Initial Operational Capability, supporting declarations made in July 2016 during the NATO Warsaw Summit.

Several capacity increments have been delivered since then with the last increment delivered in January 2018. The system is now in maintenance phase.

In-Service support

Over the past years, ThalesRaytheonSystems has concluded several agreements to provide material assistance to its Air Command and Control System (ACCS)and to gradually hand over responsibility to NATO for providing In-Service Support (ISS). The first contract announced in June 2015 pertained to the material support of 7 ACCS sites for a period of 5 months, complementing ThalesRaytheonSystems’ initial commitments with regard to maintenance.


In October 2015, a second agreement lasting 12 months was signed between TRS and the NCI Agency to provide joint In-Service Support (ISS). This allowed for the swift and expedient assistance of dedicated ACCS sites software and facilities. The contract included the delivery of tailored services and on-site assistance along with the transfer of necessary skills and knowledge.

In May 2016, an amendment brought changes to follow-up on initial maintenance commitments and to include software updates up until 2016.
Since then, the agreements have been renewed on a yearly basis and have included software updates. Starting in 2018, the support has been expanded to support nations in preparing transition to operation.


In the presence of Ms. Rose Gottenmoeller, the Deputy Secretary General of NATO, ThalesRaytheonSystems and the NATO Communications and Information Agency signed a major contract called “Addendum 3” on June 15th 2018.

Under this contract, ThalesRaytheonSystems will enhance system performance thanks to a modernized x86 architecture, provide operators with modernized HMIs and add new functionalities to significantly increase the air command and control capabilities of NATO CAOC command centers, Joint Force Air Command Center in Ramstein and member nations.

The Addendum3 contract also relies on new engineering & management methods including End-User involvement during the project lifetime, regular (every 6-7 months) checkpoints to assess progress and Agile / Incremental Engineering Practices.

The Addendum 3 will provide a solid basis for the introduction of digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data in the ACCS system roadmap and will prepare NATO air operations for the era of the defense cloud.

The completion of the project is planned in 2022.