Turkey is holding off on the final selection of a new airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft until after Australia's decision on a similar requirement. A verdict is expected to be made by Australia before the end of July.

Australia and Turkey have been engaged in parallel evaluations of competing AEW&C systems and are believed to have exchanged information. Ankara has decided to postpone its decision until after the Australian Source Selection Board completes its on-going work and submits a report to Canberra for approval.

The Turkish air force has narrowed its choice to the Boeing 737 AEW&C with the Northrop Grumman Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) and a Raytheon-led team which plans to mount the Elta Phalcon radar on an Airbus A310. The companies are to complete the submission of all tender clarifications by 2 July.

Architecturally the two systems are virtually identical to that being proposed to Australia, but may differ in the number of controller consoles. The Lockheed Martin C-130J AEW&C is also in the final running in Australia, but has been eliminated by Turkey on account of being a slower, turboprop-powered platform and because of fears of electromagnetic interference with its Lockheed Martin Advanced UHF Radar (AURA).

Australia, having invested in initial conceptual funding for all three contenders, should benefit if Turkey selects the same AEW&C. Turkey is to buy four aircraft, enough to maintain a single orbit, while Australia has increased its order from four to six or seven.

Both countries have sought maximum source code access and have met with mixed results. The A310/Phalcon and 737/MESA are non-US Government systems and are less of an issue than AURA, which forms the basis of the US Navy E-2C radar modernisation programme that should receive initial US Navy funding next year. Turkey has asked the two manufacturers for 15% of the programme by value to be sourced locally and offset of 50% against the non-Turkish work.

Source: Flight International