November/09/2012 Ümit Enginsoy
Israeli Elta Systems Ltd., maker of Turkey’s Electronic Measures Systems for Boeing’s 737 Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) Systems spy aircraft, has decided to restart the manufacture of the critical devices for the planes, informed sources have said.
Sources told the Hürriyet Daily News that the decision paves the way for the release of Boeing’s long-delayed four 737 AEW&C planes, which were built for a total of $1.6 billion. More importantly, the Israeli decision may mean an end to the country’s two-year defense exports ban for Turkey.
The sources said that with the decision to continue production recently the manufacture of a third plane approached completion. Elta had finished the production of the EMS systems for the first two aircraft years ago.
6 years late
In 2002, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, the procurement agency, ordered from Boeing four 737-700 AEW&C aircraft, a ground radar and control systems, plus ground control segments for mission crew training, mission support and maintenance support.
Under the agreement the four aircraft were supposed to be released in 2006. But the integration of the planes took much longer. Elta is building the EMS systems for four aircraft. Its Turkish systems are expected to cost more than $100 million.
The Elta decision followed Boeing’s efforts to urge the Israeli company to restart this Turkish manufacturing. Elta is the single producer of the EMS systems for Boeing’s 737 aircraft.
The 737 Boeing AEW&C aircraft are to be used as part of Turkey’s NATO capabilities. Several defense experts have claimed that the programs are too costly.
An airborne early warning and control system is an airborne radar system designed to detect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long ranges and control and command the battle space in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes. Used at a high altitude, the radars on the aircraft allow the operators to distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft hundreds of miles away.
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. Unless Elta endorsed its sales, there was a chance the sale to Turkey could not have been completed. But with Elta’s approval, the planes will be finished next year. HDN