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S Korea to deploy new spy plane during military drill

The E-737 AWACS aircraft. A Boeing photo

SEOUL (BNS): South Korea will deploy its newly-acquired E-737 airborne early warning and control system (AEW&C) aircraft during a joint military exercise with the US next year.

The advanced surveillance aircraft, dubbed as 'Peace Eye', will take part in the biennial joint Max Thunder exercise scheduled for May and October 2012, the official Yonhap news agency reported Tuesday.

"The participation will be designed to improve Peace Eye's operability and performance before being deployed for real operations. It will also be a final test for the aircraft that will follow an ongoing evaluation," an official was quoted as saying in the report.

The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) received the first of four Peace Eye planes in September this year followed by another later that month.

The surveillance aircraft, based on Boeing's 737-700 platform, is equipped with a multi-role electronically scanned radar antenna and can detect and monitor up to 1,000 airborne or surface targets simultaneously within a 370-kilometer radius.

The spy plane can fly at a maximum altitude of 41,000 feet and conduct surveillance missions for over nine hours in all weather conditions.

South Korea had awarded a USD 1.6 billion contract to US's Boeing in 2006 for the procurement of four such planes.

The remaining two Peace Eyes are expected to be delivered in 2012.


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