Boeing confirms fresh delay to Turkey’s 737 AEW&C project

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Deliveries under the Turkish air force’s “Peace Eagle” airborne early warning and control system project have been further delayed until 2010 due to software and equipment issues with the modified Boeing 737-700 aircraft.

“Upgrading the sensors is going more slowly than expected,” says Maureen Dougherty, Boeing’s vice-president for the 737 AEW&C project. “To increase the performance, the software and the equipment will be modified,” she said before this week’s International Defence Industry Fair (IDEF) in Ankara.

Turkey’s first of four AEW&C aircraft is now being prepared at Boeing’s Seattle plant in the USA ahead of flight testing from September, with the nation’s remaining airframes undergoing modification at Turkish Aerospace Industries’ Akinci facility near Ankara. The first of these will fly in early 2008.

Boeing – which had contracted to deliver Ankara’s first two AEW&C aircraft this year and all four by late 2008 – is continuing discussions with Turkey’s defence industries undersecretariat regarding penalty payments. Delays to the 737 AEW&C development programme have also affected the Royal Australian Air Force’s six-aircraft Wedgetail acquisition. However, Boeing late last year succeeded in closing a $1.6 billion deal with South Korea, which is to acquire four of the aircraft.

Read more from our IDEF show report in next week’s issue of Flight International.