Boeing 737 AEW&C

26.11.2012 20:02


The Boeing 737 AEW&C is an Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft. It is about half the weight and has half the engines of the 707-based E-3 Sentry, and mounts a fixed, electronically scanned, rather than a rotating, radar antenna. It was designed for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) under "Project Wedgetail". The 737 AEW&C has also been selected by the Turkish Air Force (under "Project Peace Eagle", Turkish: Barış Kartalı) and the Republic of Korea Air Force ("Project Peace Eye"), and has been proposed to Italy and the UAE.



Boeing 737 AEW&C


Boeing 737 AEW&C aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force


Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C)


Boeing IDS

First flight



Early 2009


Under development

Primary users

Royal Australian Air Force
Turkish Air Force
Republic of Korea Air Force

Developed from

Boeing 737




The 737 AEW&C is based on 737-700IGW airframe variant of the Boeing 737, roughly similar to the 737-700ER. It was designed to meet Australia's RFP for an aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Project Wedgetail.

The aircraft uses the Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar. The radar is located on a dorsal fin on top of the fuselage, dubbed the "top hat", and is designed for minimal aerodynamic effect. The radar is capable of simultaneous air and sea search, fighter control and area search. Other modifications include ventral fins to counterbalance the radar and countermeasures mounted on the nose, wingtips and tail. The cabin features eight operator consoles with sufficient space for four more; the Australian fleet will operate ten consoles with space for two more.

Northrop Grumman's MESA radar also formed the basis for the same company's Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) which was developed for the United States Air Force's E-10 MC2A aircraft.






In 1997, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems was awarded a contract to supply four AEW&C aircraft (whose design is based on the Boeing Business Jet 1), with Australia having the option to increase the order by three additional aircraft. Australia has since taken up two of those options. Aircraft deliveries were to begin in 2006, but significant program delays due to integration problems have occurred. The first two Wedgetail aircraft were assembled and will undergo testing in Seattle, Washington, with the final four aircraft to be assembled by Boeing Australia.

For the Australian aircraft, Boeing and Northrop are teamed with Boeing Australia, Ltd., and BAE Systems Australia. Boeing Australia will provide training, maintenance and support, BAE provides EWSP systems, Electronic Support Measures (ESM) systems and ground support systems.

On June 29, 2006 the then Australian Minister for Defence, Brendan Nelson, announced that Boeing had recently informed the Australian Government that the Wedgetail project has fallen behind schedule. According to Nelson's press release, the company had previously maintained that the project was actually on schedule. Boeing announced an 18 month delay, due to problems integrating radar and sensor computer systems, and was not expected to deliver the aircraft until early 2009. Additionally, Boeing took $770 million in charges in 2006 for the delayed aircraft. Furthermore, on June 20, 2008 Boeing announced yet another delay to the Australian program, due primarily to integration of the radar and Electronic Support Measure (ESM) systems.

On November 26, 2009, Boeing delivered the first two 737 AEW&C aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force. Initially these aircraft remained Boeing owned and operated, however on May 5, 2010 the RAAF formally accepted these aircraft into service. By the end of 2010 Boeing expects to deliver three additional 737 AEW&C aircraft to the RAAF. All Australian aircraft will be operated by No. 2 Squadron RAAF and will be based at RAAF Base Williamtown with a permanent detachment at RAAF Base Tindal.

On March 16, 2009 Boeing demonstrated control of 3 ScanEagle UAS from a Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft.


A total of four Boeing 737 AEW&C Peace Eagle aircraft (along with ground support systems) were ordered by the Turkish Air Force, with an option for two more. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is the primary subcontractor for the Peace Eagle parts production, aircraft modification, assembly and tests. Another Turkish subcontractor, Havelsan, is responsible for system analysis and software support besides the delivery of Ground Support Segment which will be located in Konya, Turkey. HAVELSAN of Turkey is also the only foreign company licenced by the U.S. Government to receive critical source codes.

Peace Eagle 1 is modified and tested by the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems in Seattle, WA, USA. Peace Eagle 2, 3 and 4 are modified and tested at the facilities of TAI in Ankara, Turkey, with the participation of Boeing and a number of Turkish companies. As of 2006, the four Peace Eagle aircraft were scheduled to be delivered in 2008. As of mid-2007, systems integration and airworthiness certification works were ongoing. In September 2007, Boeing completed the first test flight of Turkey's AEW&C 737.

On June 4, 2008, it was announced that the Turkish Aerospace Industries had completed modifications to Peace Eagle 2, the second 737 AEW&C aircraft at TAI's facilities in Turkey. Completion of checks on flight and mission systems took place in the third quarter of 2008.

South Korea

On November 7, 2006, Boeing won a $1.6 billion contract with South Korea to deliver four aircraft by 2012. Boeing beat the other entrant, IAI Elta's Gulfstream G550-based aircraft, which was eliminated from the competition on August 3, 2006.

Potential customers

Italy was strongly tipped for a purchase of a total of 14 Wedgetail and P-8 MMA aircraft, with fleet support provided by Alitalia in 2004. The Boeing 737 is the favoured competitor for the UAE AEW&C program



General characteristics

· Crew: Flight:2 Mission:8-10

· Payload: 43,720 lb (19,830 kg)

· Length: 110 ft 4 in (33.6 m)

· Wingspan: 117 ft 2 in (35.8 m)

· Height: 41 ft 2 in (12.5 m)

· Wing area: 980 ft² (91 m²)

· Airfoil: B737D

· Empty weight: 102,750 lb (46,606 kg)

· Max takeoff weight: 171,000 lb (77,564 kg)

· Powerplant: 2× CFM International CFM56-7B27A turbofans, 27,000 lbf (118 kN) each


· Cruise speed: 530 mph (853 km/h)

· Range: 3,800 nmi (7,040 km)

· Service ceiling: 41,000 ft (12,500 m)

Northrop Grumman Multi-role Active Electronically Scanned Array radar