Ramon Lopez/WASHINGTON DC
Manufacturers of airborne early warning aircraft are competing in Greece and Turkey for contracts worth at least $1.4 billion.
The bidding involves a wide range of surveillance aircraft, from the Boeing 737 and 767 to a militarised Embraer EMB-145. Meanwhile, it has emerged that Turkey and Australia may team to satisfy their respective airborne early warning and control system (AEW&CS) requirements.
Industry sources say that three companies were selected to bid for the Greek air force's AEW&CS requirement. They include Northrop Grumman (teamed with Greece's Intracom), with the E-2C Hawkeye 2000, and Lockheed Martin, with the C-130J or another C-130 model with Hawkeye electronics installed.
Sweden's Ericsson is offering its Erieye phased-array radar system on the EMB-145 AEW&CS. The system is similar to the EMB-145SA AEW&CS version of the RJ-145 regional jet, due to enter service with the Brazilian air force in early 2000 as part of the Raytheon-led SIVAM Amazon surveillance system.
The Hawkeye 2000, which will soon enter production for the US Navy, succeeds the Group II E-2C and incorporates the co-operative engagement capability (CEC), a mission computer upgrade and new operator workstations. The French navy has purchased two E-2Cs, the second of which was delivered recently, and is expected to order a third soon.
Greece has budgeted $600 million to buy four aircraft, but the contract may include options for two more. A shortlist of two finalists could emerge in early October, with a winner picked by the end of the year, to be under contract by June 1999. The US Navy has offered to let Greece operate leased Group I E-2Cs initially should it buy the Hawkeye 2000.
Turkey's $800 million acquisition calls for four aircraft. The contenders are Boeing with either the 737 or 767; the E-2C; the C-130J; and Raytheon/Israel Aircraft Industries with an Airbus A310-equipped Phalcon system. Bids are due in December. A shortlist is planned for 1999 with a final decision reached in 2000. First delivery is set for 2004.
The 737, C-130J and A310/ Phalcon are also competing in Australia's Project Wedgetail, which could be decided before the end of the year. Hoping to cut costs, Turkey and Australia are discussing a joint procurement - a move that could harm Northrop Grumman's chances in Turkey.
Source: Flight International