The Turkish air force’s first of four Boeing 737 airborne early warning and control aircraft made its debut appearance outside the USA at the 11-15 November Dubai air show, as the system’s manufacturer claims to have got the troubled development project back on track.

Developmental flight tests of the first Turkish aircraft will start next May. After confirming an approximately three-year delay to its AEW&C schedule earlier this year, the type is now expected to enter Turkish air force service during 2010.

 737 AEW
© Craig Hoyle/Flight International

Referring to earlier problems with the 737-based system, such as with the positioning of its Northrop Grumman Mesa radar, software development and other systems integration issues, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Peace Eagle programme manager Mark Ellis says: “We are past those, and we are performing.”

The Royal Australian Air Force’s first two 737-based Wedgetail aircraft are now undergoing flight test, with the service scheduled to take operational delivery of all six of its contracted aircraft during 2009.

An Australian aircraft participated in exercise Canada Trident Fury recently, during which it demonstrated its onboard systems, communications equipment and datalinks, says Ellis, who adds: “Interoperability is coming along well.”

South Korea will meanwhile hold preliminary and final design reviews for its 737-based AEW&C system in April and November 2008 respectively, says Ellis, with modifications to begin in February 2009. Seoul’s first aircraft is to be delivered during 2011, with its remaining three examples to follow during 2012.

Boeing views the United Arab Emirates as a potential fourth customer for its 737 AEW&C aircraft, although Ellis says it is unclear when it could launch a competition to seek such a capability.

Other likely bidders include Northrop Grumman, offering the E-2D Hawkeye, and a Saab proposal based around the Saab Microwave Systems Erieye radar, which could be offered with the Saab 2000 regional turboprop or Embraer’s EMB-145 airliner.