Boeing will deliver the first of four spy planes to the Turkish Air Force next year as part of a $1.6bn airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft deal, Boeing director Mark Ellis said.

The planes, based on the Boeing’s 737-700 civilian aircraft, will be equipped with Northrop Grumman’s MESA electronically scanned array radar, an all-weather, 360-degree air and maritime mode system.

The AEW&C planes will be used by the air force for national defence and for Nato-related missions.

The spy aircraft carries an airborne early warning radar system that allows the operator to detect other planes and the aircraft can be used offensively and defensively to target and counter attacks.

The remaining three planes are expected to enter service in 2013.