Photo: Current Boeing 737 AEW&C operators include the Royal Australian Air Force – this E-7A Wedgetail is accompanied by an RAAF F/A-18F as they transit to the battlespace as part of Operation Okra in the Middle East. CPL Brenton Kwaterski/Commonwealth of Australia
The UK Ministry of Defence today announced signature of a $1.98bn deal to purchase five E-7 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to replace the RAF’s fleet of E-3D Sentry AEW1s. The aircraft will be similar to the E-7A Wedgetail operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
The deal was signed by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who said: “The E-7 provides a technological edge in an increasingly complex battlespace, allowing our ships and aircraft to track and target adversaries more effectively than ever. This deal also strengthens our vital military partnership with Australia.”
As well as the E-7, Williamson pointed to commonality between the RAF and RAAF F-35 fleets and the British-designed Type 26 warships ordered by Canberra. He added: “This announcement will help us work even more closely together to tackle the global threats we face.”
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, said: “Today’s announcement about the procurement of five E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft is excellent news for both the RAF and wider Defence. This world-class capability, already proven with our Royal Australian Air Force partners, will significantly enhance our ability to deliver decisive airborne command and control and builds on the reputation of our E3D Sentry Force.”
ACM Hillier continued: “Along with Defence’s investment in other cutting-edge aircraft, E-7 will form a core element of the Next Generation Air Force, able to overcome both current and future complex threats.”
The E-7 is based on a standard Boeing 737 NG airliner modified to carry a Northrop Grumman active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar that can cover four million square kilometres over a ten-hour period.
Modification of the aircraft will be carried out in the UK at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group in Cambridge.
July 2019This month’s AFM includes an exclusive 24-page supplement detailing the UK’s combat air fleet and its prospects for the future. It comes at an exciting time for Britain’s fighter force, as F-35Bs from the RAF’s No 617 Squadron make their first overseas deployment in UK service. As well as a map and order of battle, we assess the future for Britain’s fighters against a backdrop of tightening budgets and limited resources and visit RAF Akrotiri to see the ‘Centurion’ Typhoon at war. AFM also speaks to Wg Cdr Scott ‘Mox’ Williams, the UK’s senior national representative at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, as the Lightning Force’s next unit prepares to return home to the UK. There’s a photo essay of the RAF Typhoon FGR4 and, as the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth embarks on its next series of sea trials, we speak to Cdr James Blackmore, the warship’s Commander Air, to see what’s in store for the Lightning when it goes on board again later this year. Finally, officials from the MOD and BAE Systems discuss the work that’s already under way to develop the next generation of fighter under Team Tempest.
There’s more fighter action from No 2 Operational Conversion Unit, which trains future fighter pilots for the Royal Australian Air Force, plus the Romanian Air Force’s new F-16s. Bastien Otelli took to the skies with the French Navy’s Atlantique 2, while Esteban G Brea reports from the Argentine Air Force’s commemoration of the 37th anniversary of the 1982 conflict in the Falklands. AFM contributor Alan Worsley visited Vietnam, where he saw daily operations by the Su-22 Fitter strike-fighter force. New equipment in profile includes Hellenic Air Force’s Tecnam trainers and the Airbus A400M in Luftwaffe service. On the operational side, Elan Head discovers how Canada’s new forward aeromedical evacuation capability is making a difference for UN peacekeepers in West Africa.