Boeing has completed the preliminary design review (PDR) of the 737-based Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system for Australia as the company pushes ahead with contractual negotiations for a sale to Turkey and continues to participate in South Korea's E-X competition.

Wedgetail development timing is dependent on Northrop Grumman's Multirole Electronic-ally Scanned Array (MESA)radar and IFF identification system. The critical design review is scheduled for March.

"PDR locks up the basic design and overall configuration and functionality of the system. It allows us to proceed into the detailed design," says John Sandvig, Boeing Wedgetail programme manager.


Boeing is due to complete a number of PDRs over the coming months, including the navigation system and mission computing hardware in November and remaining airborne mission systems by January. The ground element, including simulator and mission support systems, developed by BAE Systems Australia, will undergo a PDR in 2004.

The US company is due to deliver the first green Boeing Business Jet-based airframe to its Wichita, Kansas, plant for modification in December next year and the second aircraft in May 2003.

Flight testing of each aircraft will follow at approximately 12-month intervals, with the initial 737 being used to validate the airworthiness of the dorsal mounted "top-hat" array and the second aircraft testing mission systems.

The first two Wedgetails are due for delivery in late 2006 and the remaining two the following year. Australia has until July 2003 to exercise options for three aircraft.

Boeing, meanwhile, claims Turkey has now "got past" the issue of technology releasability, with an export agreement now in place allowing a contract to be concluded for six 737 AEW&Cs.

South Korea has also moved to the next phase of its E-X requirement with the start of testing and evaluating of the Boeing system and two rival Airbus A321-based offers from Raytheon and Thales.

Source: Flight International