South Korea has taken delivery of the first of four 737 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft for modifications, before handing it over to the Republic of Korea (ROK) Air Force in 2011.

South Korea signed a $1.6bn contract with Boeing IDS in November 2006, for four 737 AEW&C Peace Eye aircraft by 2012, according to

The 737 AEW&C contract will help South Korea to achieve its independent intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance capability.

The air force will receive the 737 AEW&C aircraft after it is equipped with Northrop’s L-band multirole electronically scanned array (MESA) radar by Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), as part of offset deals from the contract.

The air force will use the 737 AEW&C as an aerial command and control centre to guide fighter interceptors and tactical air force aircraft to combat areas to attack ground targets at low altitudes.

During emergency situations, the Peace Eye aircraft will help ROK airmen transport air equipment by detecting and identifying airborne objects.

The 737 will also help the airmen to select coordinates and flight path data, and transfer the information to commanders.

The 737 AEW&C can fly at a maximum altitude of 41,000ft and a top speed of 340kt. It has six common console stations for the mission crew.

Boeing delivered the first 737 plane to Korea, from its Seattle facility, on 4 February 2010.