Boeing is closing in on the final specification of the four Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft it is building for South Korea’s E-X contract, the company said at the show yesterday.

The first, Boeing-converted aircraft is due to be delivered to South Korea in 2011 and the rest, modified by Korea Aerospace Industries, in 2012. “The aircraft is just about fully defined. It’s almost nailed down.” says Mark Ellis, programme manager for the Peace Eagle project, which covers the sale of four similar aircraft to Turkey.

The first Turkish aircraft made its first mission system test flight on October 30, says Ellis, with development testing due to follow next year. The remaining three aircraft are being converted by TAI in Ankara. According to Ellis, TAI basically “rip it apart, take out the commercial wiring so that it’s pretty much a tube, and even have to cut into that to install the MESA radar, then put it together again.”

First flight of the initial TAI-converted aircraft is due in the first quarter of 2008. The Turkish aircraft will then go to Konya air base, where a ground support centre is currently being equipped. Asked about the ongoing UAE requirement for an AEW&C aircraft, Ellis added: “We’ve had a lot of discussions here since the last show. From our understanding this 737 is a brilliant match for what we believe to be their requirements.”

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Source: Flight Daily News