Initial Operational Capability (IOC):
20 May 2004
Also Known As: 737 AEW&C, E-X, Peace Eagle and Peace Eye
Origin: United States of America
Boeing* and Northrop Grumman (*) lead contractor
Parent System: E-7 Wedgetail
Initial Operational Capability (IOC): 2009
Maiden Flight: 20 May 2004
Total Production: 19
Total Cost: USD$3.6 billion
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Description: The Wedgetail program is an Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system based on the Boeing 737-700 passenger airplane. The system consists of the reliable 737-700 airframe plus the Northrop-Grumman Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar. In addition, an IFF, a passive electronic surveillance system, and a highly effective self-defense capability will be integrated into the 737 airframe. The MESA radar will provide 360-degree coverage with detection and tracking capability for both surface (sea) and airborne targets simultaneously. It requires a reinforced aircraft section in order be integrated into the 737 airframe as well as provisions for the mission systems to operate the MESA radar. The 737 AEW&C is designed to provide airborne battle management capability with 10 state-of-the-art mission system consoles.
The first Boeing 737 AEW&C airplane took the skies for the first time on May 20, 2004, during a two hours test flight. The first aircraft of this kind is expected to achieve initial operational capability with Australia in 2006. On 29 June 2006, Boeing made a public that the Wedgetail program first aircraft delivery was delayed up to 18-month due to development and integration issues with certain hardware and software components. All six Wedgetail aircraft were scheduled for delivery to Australia by the end of 2008.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) plans to set the first 737 AEW&C aircraft operational in 2006. The project Wedgetail, also known as project Air 5077, calls for four aircraft and six AEW&C systems worth $1 billion with options on two and on one additional aircraft. On May 12, 2004, the Commonwealth of Australia exercised a $180 million option for two additional Boeing 737-700 airplanes which means the number of 737 AEW&C platforms was increased to six. The first two aircraft to be delivered in 2006 and the remaining four aircraft by 2008.
Turkey also selected the 737 AEW&C for its Air Force's Peace Eagle program valued at more than $1 billion. Peace Eagle program calls for four 737 AEW&C aircraft firm orders and one option on two additional aircraft. The first 737 will undergo modification work at Seattle in the United Sates of America, and the other three 737s will be completed by TAI in Turkey. Delivery of the first two aircraft is planned in 2007, and the other two aircraft will be delivered to the Turkish Air Force in 2008. The first Turkey Peace Eagle 737-700 aircraft rolled off the Boeing factory in early November 2004. This aircraft will be fitted with auxiliary fuel tanks and receive a reinforced fuselage section to hold the MESA radar system. First flight of the complete Turkish 737 AEW&C aircraft is scheduled for late 2006. The International Boeing-led team includes the Turkish companies: Aselsan, Havelsan, MSKAS, MIKES,TAI and THY.
In June 2004, Boeing released that its 737 AEW&C solution had been proposed to Republic of Korea's EX airborne surveillance and command and control program. According to Boeing, South Korea could take over the first 737 AEW&C aircraft in 2008, if the aircraft is finally selected for the EX program.
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