Thursday, June 20, 2024

South Korea to receive next-gen early-warning plane

In a strategic move to bolster the Korea Air and Missile Defense initiative, the Korea AEW&C team, led by L3Harris, unveils a cutting-edge Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) solution.

Drawing on a rich history of delivering special mission aircraft globally, the team’s proposal builds on a battle-tested mission system design, ensuring a robust capability with minimal development and sustainment costs.

Over the past two decades, the Korea AEW&C team, including L3Harris, has successfully delivered special mission aircraft to various clients. Notable contributions include multiple Italian Air Force CAEW aircraft supporting NATO missions, and two Israeli Air Force CAEW aircraft involved in ongoing local operations. Impressively, all aircraft have maintained mission availability rates above 90 percent, showcasing the reliability and effectiveness of the team’s solutions.


L3Harris, a key player in defense technology, has a track record of delivering P-3CK revitalization, P-3C upgrades, RC-800 Baekdu programs, and special surveillance aircraft to the Republic of Korea (ROK).

The proposed ROK Air Force AEW&C solution is a combination of a proven mission system design and a modular open systems approach (MOSA) digital backbone. This MOSA integration allows for affordable and rapid upgrades to address evolving threats, operational approaches, and interoperability requirements. Choosing a business jet platform not only ensures a lower cost per operating hour compared to commercial derivative solutions but also provides high readiness rates, along with higher altitude and longer-range surveillance capabilities.

The heart of this AEW&C solution lies in the battle-tested L3Harris platform design utilizing Bombardier’s Global 6500 high-altitude business jet. Integrated with IAI/ELTA’s advanced radar technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, this platform stands as the world’s most advanced airborne battle management system. The Global 6500, a modern aircraft with superior specifications, promises higher altitude, speed, endurance, and cost-efficiency compared to existing AEW&C platforms.

Mark Kobussen, Managing Director, Strategic Collection & Targeting Programs at L3Harris, emphasizes the team’s thorough evaluation of future special mission requirements for the Republic of Korea. The Global 6500’s selection for the program was decisive, considering its compatibility with other missions like Stand-Off Jammer and ISTAR.

A distinctive aspect of this program is its strategic transition to a predominantly Korean industry-led initiative post-prototype delivery. The initial two aircraft will undergo structural modifications in Texas before integration and radar testing at an ELTA facility in Israel. Korean Air, involved from the project’s inception, will take charge of engineering, in-country modifications, testing activities for the third and fourth aircraft, and sustainment of the program.

Through collaborative agreements with Korean Air, LIG Nex1, Ace Antenna, and ongoing discussions with additional Korean partners, the team aims to ensure full support for the aircraft and mission system equipment within Korea. Sustainment, obsolescence management, and future capability upgrades will be led by Korean industry experts, with support from the L3Harris team.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Colton Jones
Colton Jones
Colton Jones is the deputy editor of Defence Blog. He is a US-based journalist, writer and publisher who specializes in the defense industry in North America and Europe. He has written about emerging technology in military magazines and elsewhere. He is a former Air Force airmen and served at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.



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