Boeing today formally introduced the newest member of its airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) family, delivering the company's first two 767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft to the government of Japan in a ceremony at Boeing Field in Seattle.
Boeing is under contract to build four 767 AWACS for Japan. The second two aircraft will be delivered in early 1999.
"We are extremely pleased to take delivery of the first two E-767 AWACS," said Col. Kunio Orita, Japan Air Self Defense Force AWACS program manager. "The 767 platform gives us a system that will meet our defense requirements far into the next century."
Prior to delivery, the two aircraft went through rigorous flight and mission system testing. In addition to the normal government qualification tests, the aircraft also went through the same FAA certification process as the company's commercial aircraft. Since testing began in August 1996, the two aircraft have logged a total of 194 flights and 798 flight hours.
Alan Mulally, Boeing Information, Space & Defense Systems president, said the 767 AWACS program's success and delivery of the first two aircraft is a tribute to teamwork as well as international cooperation.
"The teamwork between the Japan Air Self Defense Force, Japanese industry, the U.S. Air Force and Boeing made this day possible," Mulally said. "We are pleased to support the cooperation of the governments of Japan and the United States."
"The success of the 767 AWACS program is the result of commitment and dedication on the part of a team of professionals," said Col. Charles J. O'Connor, U.S. Air Force Electronic Systems Center 767 AWACS program manager. "The 767 AWACS will provide Japan with a state-of-the-art command and control capability, and will be a symbol of peace and stability as it joins the worldwide fleet."
AWACS, the world's standard for AEW&C systems, fills the need for both airborne surveillance and command and control functions for tactical and air defense forces. The 767 AWACS offers countries a defensive capability well beyond the range of current ground-based systems. Substantial growth capacity inherent in the 767 AWACS ensures that the system can be readily adapted to meet future missions and requirements.
There currently are 66 E-3 707 AWACS aircraft operating in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia and NATO. Production of the 707 airframe ended in 1991, with the 767 platform chosen as its replacement.