Malaysia is targeting the acquisition of an airborne early warning (AEW) capability as its next major air force procurement following its pending purchase of 18 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets and a similar number of Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighters.

The country is evaluating AEW proposals from Embraer and Northrop Grumman and is believed to be ruling out Boeing's 737-based solution on cost grounds. Up to four aircraft are required initially for delivery from 2006, say industry sources. Boeing says: "Pending US government approval, Boeing would like to provide Malaysia with detailed data on the 737AEW&C system and programme."

Northrop is offering new-build Hawkeye 2000s or refurbished ex-US Navy E-2Cs with upgraded mission systems.

The E-2Cs would be modernised to the Hawkeye 2000 standard, with Lockheed Martin's APS-145 radar, a new antenna and updated Rolls-Royce T56-425 turboprops.

Embraer's bid uses an ERJ-145 regional jet with an Ericsson Erieye phased-array radar. Saab is also believed to be offering the Erieye, but mounted on a turboprop.

Source: Flight International