The origin of the Boeing 737 Airborne early warning and control came from the Wedgetail project.

Boeing 737 AEW&C review on Dung Tran Military channel


737 is a narrow-body twin-engine jet of Boeing. This aircraft was designed for short-to-medium range flights, with a smaller design, fewer seats, and more fuel efficiency than the 707 or 727 aircraft at that time. After 50 years, the Boeing 737 aircraft has 10 variants, one of the most advanced military variants of this aircraft is the Airborne early warning and control.

Currently, the E-3A Sentry early warning aircraft is a standard not only for NATO but also for many countries allied with the United States, to meet intelligence sharing requirements when multinational combat cooperation. In the near future E-3A Sentry will gradually be completely replaced by newer early warning aircraft also developed by Boeing, the 737 Airborne early warning and control is a bright candidate.

The Boeing 737 Airborne early warning and control is based on the 737-700 variant and a total of 14 aircraft have been produced. The Royal Australian Air Force owns 6 aircraft, with the name E-7A Wedgetail. The Turkish Air Force owns four with the name Peace Eagle, and the Korean Air Force owns four with the name Peace Eye.

Boeing 737 AEW&C
Boeing 737 AEW&C


The origin of the Boeing 737 Airborne early warning and control came from the Wedgetail project, when the Royal Australian Air Force made a request for a new generation airborne early warning and control aircraft in 1990. Boeing Group won with a 737 prototype built on the Boeing 737 Next Generation fuselage, similar version with 737-700ER.

In terms of design, the 737 early warning version is not much different from the previous 737 generations. Still an elongated tubular fuselage, the pair of conventional low-mounted sweep wings. Two turbofan engines are set up under the wings. A large vertical tail fin is located on two horizontal planes, also sweep back like the main wings.

The difference is a dorsal fin on top of the fuselage, dubbed the “top hat”, and is designed for minimal aerodynamic effect. Other modifications include ventral fins to counterbalance the radar and countermeasures mounted on the nose, wingtips and tail.

In-flight refueling is via a receptacle on top of the forward fuselage. The cabin features eight operator consoles with sufficient space for four more.

The aircraft has an empty weight of 46.6 tons, the maximum take-off weight reaches 77.6 tons. Other specifications include a length of 33.6m (110.24 ft), a wingspan of 35.8m (117.45 ft), a height of 12.5m (41.01 ft) and an wing area of 91 square meters. It has a flying boom receptacle and a fixed probe providing dual in-flight refuelling capability.

Boeing 737 AEW&C
Boeing 737 AEW&C


The aircraft’s powerplant is two CFM International CFM56-7B27A turbofans, delivering 121 kiloNewtons each. These engines help the 737 reach a cruising speed of 853 km/h, the range of 3500 nautical miles while the service ceiling reaches 12500m.

Combat capacity

The 737 airborne early warning and control made its first flight in 2004 and was introduced in 2009, characterized by a Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array radar, operating on L-band, It is a flat plate instead of a rotating disc like on the E-3 Sentry.

The radar is capable of simultaneous air and sea search, fighter control and area search, in look-up mode it has a maximum range of over 600 km. When operating in look-down mode against fighter-sized target, the maximum range is in excess of 370 km. When used against maritime targets, the maximum range is over 240 km for frigate-sized targets.

Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array radar is capable of simultaneously tracking 180 targets and conducting 24 intercepts.

In particular, the radar antenna array also helps the 737 take on the role of electronic intelligence, it collects radio signals from 850 km away when flying at an altitude of 9,000 m. This radar allows observing space and ground at 360-degree angles, the wave can be set from 2 to 8 degrees, while scan duration can be set from 3 s to 40 s. Radar signal processing equipment and central computer are installed directly below the antenna array.

RAAF E-7A Wedgetail tour


Currently, the Air Force owns the most of 737 airborne early warning and control aircraft in the world is the Royal Australian Air Force, with six in service. In October 2018, the British Government announced that it is in discussion with Boeing and the Royal Australian Air Force about the potential for the E-7 Wedgetail radar aircraft to replace its E-3D fleet. On March 22, 2019, it was announced by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson that the UK had signed a $1.98 billion deal to purchase five E-7 Wedgetails.

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RAAF Boeing 737 AEW&C Wedgetail Arrival


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