Janes reported that Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) signed $15.6 million (KRW18 billion ) contract with Boeing on 28 July to support the US company in upgrading the Republic of Korea Air Force’s (RoKAF’s) four Boeing E-737 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft with new mission systems. The contract, which was announced by KAI on 30 July, formalises the company’s participation in the RoKAF’s ‘E-737 AEW&C Performance Improvement Project’, which is led by Boeing and includes upgrades to both the identification friend-or-foe (IFF) and Link 16 tactical datalink systems on the aircraft.
This project is to install improved Pia Identification Equipment (IFF) and Tactical Data Link in the E-737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C). KAI participated in the AEW&C project with Boeing in 2006 and successfully assembled, modified, and installed the latest multi-functional electronic phase array radar and electronic equipment. KAI will participate in activities such as aircraft modification, functional inspection, and flight test support. It is expanding its maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) capabilities through its subsidiary, Korea Aviation Engineering & Maintenance Service (KAEMS).
The Boeing 737 AEW&C is a twin-engine airborne early warning and control aircraft based on the Boeing 737 Next Generation design. It is lighter than the 707-based Boeing E-3 Sentry, and has a fixed, active electronically scanned array radar antenna instead of a rotating one. It was designed for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) under “Project Wedgetail” and designated E-7A Wedgetail. The 737 AEW&C has also been selected by the Turkish Air Force (under “Project Peace Eagle”, Turkish: Bar?? Kartal?, designated E-7T), the United Kingdom (designated Wedgetail AEW1) and the Republic of Korea Air Force (“Project Peace Eye”).
On 7 November 2006, Boeing won a $1.6 billion contract with South Korea to deliver four aircraft by 2012. The first Peace Eye aircraft was delivered to Gimhae Air Base, Busan for acceptance testing on 1 August 2011 with the remaining three aircraft delivered every six months until 2012. The second aircraft was modified into an AEW&C configuration by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), then delivered to Gimhae Air Base on 13 December 2011. After receiving AEW&C modifications by KAI, the third aircraft was delivered on 17 May 2012 to Gimhae Air Base. The fourth aircraft was delivered on 24 October 2012.