Three consortia, led by Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon E-Systems, are expecting Initial Design Activity (IDA) contracts for Project Wedgetail, Australia's competition for an airborne early-warning and control aircraft, before the end of this year.

The Royal Australian Air Force is expected to pick the Project Wedgetail winner within a year. The IDA contracts, each worth about $6 million, will allow potential suppliers to begin critical design work before submitting a full tender by the end of 1998. The current requirement is for four aircraft, with an option for two more.

Boeing's bid is based on the corporate-jet version of the latest 737 fitted with a dorsal-mounted multi-role electronically scanned array radar supplied by Northrop Grumman's Electronic Sensors and Systems division. Raytheon E-Systems is offering an Airbus A310 fitted with the electronically scanned Elbit Phalcon phased-array radar. Lockheed Martin, with Northrop Grumman's Electronic and System Integration, is offering a lower-cost solution built around the C-130J with a Lockheed Martin APS-145 radar.

Source: Flight International