Turkey is expected to make a decision on its long-standing requirement for an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft by October, with competing Boeing and Raytheon teams now in Ankara fine-tuning final tenders.

Industry officials anticipate a Turkish air force selection shortly following the submission of revised pricing at the end of July. Ankara had threatened to scupper the deal unless costs were lowered.

"The air force needs an AEW aircraft as badly as ever to round out their capabilities," says a source close to the Turkish military. Earlier this year Turkey increased the number of required aircraft to seven, but funding constraints may force it to cut this to the four needed to maintain a single orbit.

What impact Australia's decision to defer its AEW&C deal with Boeing will have on the Turkish selection is unclear. The two countries have liaised closely during their evaluations. Australia selected the Northrop Grumman Multirole Electronically Scanned Array radar-equipped Boeing 737, which is believed to have given the system the edge in the Turkish competition over Raytheon's rival Airbus A310 equipped with Elta's Phalcon radar.

Boeing sources claim its 737 bid price is not linked to an Australian purchase and that Turkey will proceed regardless of what Canberra decides. For Raytheon, Turkey represents the last near-term opportunity to launch the A310/Phalcon system.

Source: Flight International