Boeing Delivers 737 Airborne Early Warning And Control Aircraft To South Korea


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Boeing Delivers 737 Airborne Early Warning And Control Aircraft To South Korea

By Mike Mitchell

October 18, 2011 - When the first Boeing Peace Eye 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft was delivered last month to the Republic of Korea Air Force, it included a key radar sensor designed and developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation. 

An airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) (or more commonly and historically an AWAC) system is an airborne radar system designed to detect aircraft at long ranges and control and command the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack plane strikes.  

AEW&C/AWAC units are used also used to carry out surveillance, including over ground targets and frequently perform C2BM (command and control, battle management) functions similar to an Airport Traffic Controller given military command over other forces.

Used at a high altitude, the radars on the aircraft allow the operators to distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft hundreds of miles away. AWAC/AEW&C aircraft are used for both defensive and offensive air operations, and are to the NATO and USA forces trained or integrated Air Forces what the Command Information Center is to a Navy Warship, plus a highly mobile and powerful radar platform. The system is used offensively to direct fighters to their target locations, and defensively in order to counter attacks by enemy forces, both air and ground.

So useful is the advantage of command and control from a high altitude, the United States Navy operates AWAC aircraft off its Supercarriers to augment and protect its Carrier Command Information Centers (CICs) AEW&C is also known by the older terms "airborne early warning" (AEW) and "airborne warning and control system". 

Northrop Grumman's Multirole Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar, produced at the company's Electronic Systems sector facility in Baltimore, will enable airborne surveillance of the entire Korean peninsula. Northrop Grumman is providing four MESA radars for the South Korean AEW&C program under a contract with Boeing awarded in 2007. 

"Delivery of the MESA radar to the air force of South Korea reflects the increasing importance of airborne surveillance and battlespace management to this region," said Paul B. Kalafos, Jr., vice president of Northrop Grumman's Surveillance Systems business unit. "This powerful radar system will help provide mission crews with the tools needed to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously and direct offensive and defensive forces while maintaining continuous surveillance of the operational area." 


The Peace Eye program includes four 737 AEW&C aircraft plus ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support and system maintenance. The three remaining MESA radar systems are currently being integrated into the Boeing AEW&C aircraft, with delivery to the South Korean air force scheduled for 2012. South Korea is the second country to have the MESA radar in its fleet, after Australia. 

Under contract with Boeing, Northrop Grumman is also supplying its MESA radar sensor for the 737 AEW&C programs in Australia and Turkey.

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