RAYTHEON EXPECTS to earn more than $250 million from South Korea's decision to buy eight Hawker 800XP mid-size jet aircraft and four signal-intelligence (SIGINT) mission systems from subsidiary company E-Systems.

The South Korean purchase of advanced airborne-reconnaissance systems also includes synthetic-aperture radars (SARs) from Lockheed Martin's Loral Tactical Defense Systems, worth about $200 million. Four of the militarised business aircraft will be fitted with the E-Systems equipment, while the rest will be equipped with the SARs.

The first aircraft is due to enter service at the turn of the century, although the timetable could be moved forward to the end of 1998, with initial SAR-equipped aircraft becoming operational a year later.

The classified project, known in US military circles as Peace Pioneer, will give South Korea an indigenous airborne intelligence-gathering capability. It is a key element of South Korea's five-year force-modernisation programme.

The aircraft will replace US Army RC-12/RU-21 Guardrail communications, intelligence and electronics-signals intercept aircraft. The new turbofan-powered aircraft will also take over the role occupied by ageing SAR-equipped RV-1 Mohawks now used to protect Seoul.

Source: Flight International