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E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System

AWACS provides survivable airborne surveillance, command, control and communications functions and early warning detection and tracking of low-level targets at extended ranges over land and water. The Boeing E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) developed as a natural progression from the E-3 Sentry following the closure of Boeing's 707 production line. The E-767 combines a Boeing 767-200ER airframe with the APY-2 development of the Sentry's APY-1 radar and mission system. The 767 is six feet longer, has 50 percent more floor area, nearly twice the cabin volume and can fly higher, faster and longer than the original 707. The mission equipment ise essentially the same as the US models.

The heart of AWACS is encased in the distinctive rotodome which houses the radar and revolves once every 10 seconds. The radar is able to look down at airborne targets and, through a phenomenon called "Doppler shift," can tell the difference between radar energy from moving targets and general "clutter" reflected off the surface of the earth. When a target returns a radar pulse it causes a change in radar frequency. If an object is moving towards the AWACS, the radar beam returns at a higher frequency. If an object is moving away from the system, the pulse is returned as a lower frequency. These radar frequency shifts, combined with the speed and direction of the AWACS itself, provide surveillance information while ignoring clutter. Range, speed, azimuth angle and elevation are provided for each element tracked by the AWACS and displayed on situational display consoles for the surveillance system crew members. The ability to integrate aircraft and ground station command, control and communication capabilities offers its users tremendous air defense advantages.

The 767 AWACS initiative combines two unique, separate contracts - a direct commercial sale between Japan and the Boeing Company for the 767 airframes and a foreign military sale between Boeing and the US Government for the AWACS prime mission equipment. The aircraft were built in Renton, Wash., flown to the Boeing facility in Wichita, Kansas for installation of the rotodome struts and related equipment and flown back to Seattle for the installation of the AWACS mission equipment. The 767 program office developed a partnership with Boeing to meet Government of Japan system requirements. The program office also implemented a new DoD "best practice" approach, Clear Accountability in Design (CAID), which reduces required government oversight. This initiative reduces government manpower and processes necessary for program execution.

The 767 AWACS program began in 1993, when the U.S. and Japan agreed to begin development of the system. President George Bush approved the program by signing an agreement in January 1992 with Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. In keeping with worldwide tradition, the JASDF kept the "E" designation, naming its acquisition the E-767. The E-767 effort evolved when the JASDF required a sophisticated airborne platform that would provide its country with the capability to monitor its sea lanes.

The capabilities of all existing worldwide airborne early warning systems were evaluated, and Japan determined that the sole system that could provide the capacity and range Japan needed was the American AWACS. Boeing closed the 707 production line in the early 1990s, compelling the Air Force and the company to undertake an intensive research effort to determine the AWACS successor aircraft. Their findings led them to the 767. Millions of dollars in development costs were saved by using a variation of the existing E-3 AWACS software, which gives the E-767 a built-in upgrade capacity.

The $2.3 billion program included building and integrating mission equipment with aircraft structures, while securing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airworthiness certification. The schedule called for the delivery of the first two aircraft in March of 1998, and the remaining two systems in early 1999. The Japan Air Self Defense Force purchased its four 767 aircraft from Boeing through a direct commercial sale, and are completed the mission systems electronics -- Developed by Electronic Systems Center -- through the US Foreign Military Sales Program. The Boeing Company had long conducted business with Japan in the commercial sector. In fact, Japan was already making components for the commercial version of the 767, which it then sent to Boeing's facility in Seattle for assembly and production.

The first flight of the completed E-767 occurred on 9 August 1996 at Everett, Washington. To date only the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has ordered the E-767, initially purchasing two in 1992, increasing the order to four in 1994. The first production E-767 entered an extensive testing and certification program with the aim of delivering the first two E-767s to the JASDF in 1998.

The 767 AWACS successfully completed air worthiness testing 27 January 1997. Developed by Air Force Electronic Systems Center for the Japan Air Self Defense Force, the E-767 platform completed more than 380 hours of in-flight tests at Boeing Field, Seattle, Wash., Edwards AFB, Calif., Casper, Wyo. and Yuma, Ariz. During the tests, the 767 AWACS aircraft, the first of its type, was outfitted with all air vehicle systems and the distinctive AWACS rotodome, but no mission systems. The flight testing was unique, because it was conducted according to Federal Aviation Administration standards, rather than those of the military. Because the E-767 was developed as a commercial platform, and is currently in world-wide use, the FAA certification process was a necessary and critical part of the program. The air worthiness test program involved 130 flights of the 767 AWACS and almost 290 hours of ground testing, and met all of its initial test objectives, including yaw damper checks, steady heading sideslips, a touch and go landing, gear and flap checks and stick shaker speed checks. One hundred thirty-eight separate items were tested, including 46 FAA certification test items. An FAA certification test was unable to be performed and deferred to the second airplane. The testing was scheduled for completion in mid-February 1997, but because of strict management controls and the application of Department of Defense acquisition reform initiatives, all tests were completed by Jan. 27, three weeks ahead of schedule.

A Mission-Simulator Facility which duplicates the AWACS computer consoles and creates simulated mission scenarios and a Daily Mission Support Facility which develops computerized mission profiles for upcoming operations and evaluates computerized data from completed missions are also part of the contract. They are located with the E-767 at Hamamatsu, Japan's main air base. A complete support infrastructure was constructed at Hamamatsu for the AWACS, including a massive hangar and mission support facilities and squadron operations buildings for the aircraft and new aircrews.

South Korea has been seeking an AEW capability since the early 1990s. In September 1997 the Government of Korea has requested the purchase of four E-767 Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), spare and repair parts, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. government and contractor technical and logistics personnel services, logistics support and other related program elements to ensure complete AWACS program supportability. The estimated cost was $3.0 billion. By 1999 a competition emerged between the Boeing E-767 AWACS, an IAI Phalcon on an A310 or an Ericsson Erieye on the ERJ-145. At least Four and as many as eight platforms were required. South Korea was expected to select a winner of its AEW aircraft competition in 1999 but this was postponed, due to the Far East economic crash.

Other military variants of the 767 are under consideration, including tanker and strategic transport aircraft to replace the aging fleet of KC-135s and B707s in world wide military service.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:29:40 ZULU