The Boeing 737-700 civilian passenger jet airliner - coupled with a modern radar and airborne control system - forms the basis of the Boeing 737 "Peace Eagle" Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C or "AWACs"). The aircraft has been adopted by the air forces of Australia, South Korea and Turkey with some 14 total units having been built by July 2014. Australia operates six as the E-7A "Wedgetail" while South Korea manages a stable of four aircraft. The Turkish Air Force has four ordered with an option for two more as the EW-7T. This was debuted during Anatolian Eagle 2014 which brought together aircraft from Britain, Spain, Jordan, Turkey, and Qatar for joint exercises. The Turkish Air Force accepted their first aircraft (named "Kusey" or "North") on February 21st, 2014. Guney, Dogu and Bati (South, East and West respectively) will follow. Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is the subcontractor in the Boeing-led "Peace Eagle" project for Turkey.
The initial modified 737 airframe was developed stateside in the United States at Boeing's Seattle facilities to establish the overall design and implement the complex onboard systems. Flight testing then ended in September of 2007. Turkey then handled local manufacture and development of the second airframe through TAI directly to gain the necessary experience in developing and servicing Turkish aircraft in Turkey. Their arrival with all of the mentioned service considerably broaden each nation's respective strategic reach in their respective volatile areas - Australia and South Korea in the Asia-Pacific region and Turkish in the Middle East.
As completed, the Peace Eagle will feature a crew of up to ten to include the pilots, commander and mission specialists. Payload capacity will range up to 43,720lbs. The airframe, generally unchanged from the Boeing 737 product, features a running length of 110 feet, 4 inches, a wingspan of 117 feet, 2 inches and a height of 41 feet, 2 inches. Empty weight is listed at 102,750lbs with an MTOW of 171,000lbs. Power comes from 2 x CFM International CFM56-7B27A series turbofan engines offering 27,000lbs of thrust each. Cruising speeds will reach 530 miles per hour with a range of 3,500 nautical miles and a service ceiling of 41,000 feet. The Peace Eagle airframe can accept in-flight refueling from a tanker aircraft through a connection fitted over and aft of the cockpit flightdeck.
Key to the success of the Peace Eagle is its Northrop Grumman-developed multi-role, Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar system fitted atop the dorsal spine of the fuselage. Unlike the radomes of old, this array is of a slender, flat and elongated shape sat upon a structural support mated to the fuselage. The forward dorsal spine features a bevy of antenna and sensor outcroppings for the role, as does the forward and center portions of the fuselage's ventral side. Another change to the 737 shape is the addition of large ventral strakes added to the empennage underside. The wings remain low-mounted, swept-back mainplanes each managing an underslung engine nacelle. The tail is made up of a single, high-reaching vertical fin with low-set horizontal tailplanes. The cockpit is held well-forward in the design, offering maximum vision over the nose. The undercarriage consists of a double-wheeled nose leg with a pair of double-wheeled main legs, all retractable.
Italy, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have each been mentioned as possible operators of the Peace Eagle system.
On May 2nd, 2014, it was announced that the second Peace Eagle aircraft had been delivered to the Turkish Air Force. The third aircraft followed with an announcement on September 9th, 2014. A total of four are currently (2015) in the service's possession.