The first element of NATO’s new Air Command and Control System (ACCS) was formally handed over to the NATO Communications and Information (NCI) Agency from contractor Air Command Systems International and delivered May 29 to its new home base Poggio Renatico, Italy.

Air Command Systems International is a joint venture between Thales and Raytheon Systems [RTN], now working under a contract currently valued at approximately $2.8 billion.

The arrival of the Deployable ARS (DARS) Quick Reaction Package in Poggio Renatico following successful tests in April with military operators, is a key step towards the implementation of NATO’s new command structure. It can be rapidly deployed anywhere in the world to command complex air operations.

“This continues the dynamic positive momentum of the program,” said Enzo Montalti, AirC2 program director at the NCI Agency. “We are particularly pleased, that–prior to this delivery–the ACCS LOC1 software has also passed the second initial operational test and evaluation at the quick reaction package.”

By the end of June, the full DARS will provide NATO with a Deployable Air Control Center, Recognized Air Picture Production Center And Sensor Fusion Post and will move to Poggio Renatico.

As part of NATO’s new Command structure, the DARS was to move from Nieuw Milligen in the Netherlands to Poggio Renatico, Italy, where the Alliance’s Deployable Air Command and Control Centre (DACCC) will be located.

During the inspection of the second of four convoys delivering the equipment Montalti, and Bernard Garot, ACCS program director at the agency also met with Lt. Gen. Mirco Zuliani, Combined Air Operations Center 5 Poggio Renatico (CAOC5PR) and DACCC Commander. Montalti and Garot stressed it was important to make ACCS operational at Poggio Renatico as soon as possible.

During April, the NCI Agency AirC2 Program Office, coordinating with SHAPE and the DARS team, successfully performed the second Initial Operational Test and Evaluation of the ACCS LOC1 Software using the DARS Quick Reaction Package.

The ACCS program will replace a large number of national and NATO air defense systems and will provide a fully integrated system across continental NATO Europe and Iceland.

ACCS supports offensive, defensive and support air operations on NATO territories and is fit for Out of Area operations. In addition to air operations, ACCS will also support the NATO theater missile defense and will be a cornerstone of the future NATO ballistic missile defense capability.

The deployment has started already at a limited numbers of sites located in Belgium, France, Germany and Italy. For Italy, Poggio Renatico is also the site where the static ACCS system has been installed. Completion of this initial rollout is planned for the end 2013 or in early 2014. It is expected that NATO’s operational community will begin to use the system in 2014.