South Korea to Get 1st Early Warning Aircraft in July
Boeing will deliver the first of four planned 737 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to South Korea in July, procurement officials here said Feb. 28.
"The first 737 AEW&C is now in development test and evaluation after its flight tests were completed successfully last June," an official at the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said. "Type test and evaluation is scheduled to begin in March before a Korean operational utility demonstration slated for May."
The first aircraft is now at a Boeing facility in Seattle, while the remainder is at a facility of Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) in Sacheon, about 430 kilometers southeast of Seoul, for system integration and modification works, the official said.
South Korea signed a $1.6 billion contract in November 2006 to introduce four 737 AEW&C "Peace Eye" aircraft by 2012. The modification work by KAI is part of offset deals from the AEW&C contract.
The Peace Eye systems include an increased-gross-weight version of the new 737-700 passenger aircraft; Northrop Grumman's Multi-mode Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar and identification friend or foe (IFF) system; electronic support and communications measures; electronic warning and self-protection system; and ground systems and product support.
The 737 AEW&C aircraft is a core part in South Korea's pursuit of achieving independent intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to prepare for the transition of wartime operational control from the U.S. to South Korea in 2015, as the nation heavily relies on U.S. reconnaissance aircraft based in Okinawa, Japan.
The South Korean Air Force considers creating a tactical reconnaissance wing led by the 737 AEW&C aircraft. The wing will have unmanned aerial vehicles, RF-4C surveillance planes, Hawker 800 aircraft and others, according to Air Force officials.
In case of an emergency, the Peace Eye aircraft will orchestrate air assets flown by ROK airmen by detecting and identifying airborne objects, determining their coordinates and flight path data, and transferring the information to commanders.
The planes will offer all-weather surveillance, command-and-control, and communications platform to guide fighter-interceptors and tactical air force aircraft to combat areas to attack ground targets at low altitudes, with on-board battle management crew conducting planning, direction, coordination, and control of forces and operations.
The 737 AEW&C has six common console stations for the mission crew and boasts of its commonality with commercial airline fleets for flexibility and support. The aircraft can fly at a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet and top speed of 340 knots.
S. Korea to Get 1st Early Warning Aircraft in July - Defense News