A revised line-up is emerging for the stalled South Korean airborne early warning (AEW) competition, reflecting developments in contests now under way in Australia, Greece and Turkey.

Before the programme was delayed by the country's economic crisis, South Korea had shortlisted three contenders for its AEW requirement: Boeing's 767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), Elta's Phalcon, also on the 767, and Ericsson's Erieye, on the Saab 2000.

Although some bidders believe that it could be at least two years before the programme is revived, they are briefing South Korea on potential changes to their offerings resulting primarily from Australia's Project Wedgetail competition, to be decided in July 1999.

Raytheon Systems, which is shortlisted in the Wedgetail competition with an Airbus A310 carrying Elta's Phalcon phased-array radar, says that it planned to brief South Korea in mid-August on plans to substitute the same Raytheon-led design for the Elta-led 767 solution originally shortlisted.

Raytheon says Elta entered the Korean competition before the two companies had signed their agreement to offer an AEW system based on the A310. The same aircraft is being offered to Turkey.

South Korea is known to be interested in following the Australian lead in selecting an AEW aircraft. This has given Lockheed Martin hope that its C-130J-based AEW aircraft, also shortlisted for Wedgetail, will be allowed back into the competition.

Meanwhile, Ericsson is revising its bid to use the Embraer EMB-145 as a platform for its Erieye phased-array radar, as the Saab 2000 will be out of production by the time South Korea decides.

The Erieye-equipped EMB-145 is being offered to Greece, and the Swedish company intends to open discussions with South Korea about a change to a similar configuration.

Boeing is the third bidder shortlisted in the Wedgetail competition, with a 737-based solution using a new Northrop Grumman phased-array radar, but it is not known whether the company plans to offer this to South Korea instead of, or in competition with, the 767 AWACS.

Both types have been offered to Turkey, which is also following the Australian competition closely and which plans to select an AEW aircraft soon after the Wedgetail contest is decided.

Source: Flight International