UK in talks with Boeing to replace AWACS aircraft
October 4, 2018 -- The UK has begun talks with Boeing to replace its fleet of ageing E-3 Sentry surveillance planes with the U.S. aerospace group’s more modern E-7 Wedgetail early warning and control aircraft.
The RAF has been keen to secure a replacement for its fleet of six Sentry E-3D airborne warning and control system aircraft (AWACS) which have been in operation since 1992, according to the Financial Times.
The E-7 is based on a standard Boeing 737-700 airliner modified to carry an advanced radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles which can track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.
The project could cost the Ministry of Defence around $6.5 billion over its expected 20-year operational lifespan, for which Britain will receive five or six E-7 aircraft.
The Wedgetail’s Northrop Grumman-built radar uses electronic scanning, allowing radar energy to be directed, unlike the mechanical scanning of older E-3 aircraft. The system can cover four million square kilometres during a single 10-hour mission, according to the Royal Australian Air Force, the type’s main operator.