EXCLUSIVE – A source close to the now-retired E-3D Sentry fleet has told the UK Defence Journal that Chile jas purchased retired E-3D aircraft from Britain.

One of the aircraft has already been sold to the United States, to be used as a dedicated trainer supporting its E-6B Mercury airborne communications and command post fleet.

The UK originally operated seven of the aircraft type. In December 2020, only three remained in service after one was withdrawn from service in 2009 to be used as spares, two were withdrawn in March 2019 and a further one withdrawn in January 2020.

It was unknown how many Chile intend to purchase but I have been told that it will be “more than one”, however today (19th of January) it was confirmed that three have been sold.

I have contacted the Ministry of Defence for comment on this news and I will update this article when I receive a response.

The ‘E-3D’ variant features CFM56 engines and some British modifications and was designated Sentry AEW.1 in RAF service. Modifications included the addition of a refuelling probe next to the existing boom AAR receptacle, wingtip ESM pods, an enhanced Maritime Surveillance Capability offering ‘Maritime Scan-Scan Processing’ plus JTIDS and Havequick 2 radios.

An E-7 Wedgetail.

The RAF’s E-3 Sentry airborne early warning aircraft fleet was retired in September with their replacement, the E-7 Wedgetail, not due until 2023. The UK will rely on the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force to plug the gap.

The first two of three E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft for the Royal Air Force are starting to take shape. Air Marshal Andrew Turner of the Royal Air Force tweeted the following:

STS Aviation is converting three Boeing 737 airliners into E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft at its facility at Birmingham Airport.

An E-7 Wedgetail of the Royal Australian Air Force. Photo by Bidgee [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons.

Wedgetail is an airborne early warning and control system, commonly known as AWACs or AEW&C. They are designed to track multiple targets at sea or in the air over a considerable area for long periods of time. This aircraft is replacing the E-3D Sentry, pictured below.

FILE PHOTO: E-3D Sentry

The plan, previously, was five aircraft but the recent ‘Defence Command Paper’ reduced the order from five to three. The Defence Command Paper released, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’, stated:

“We will retire the E 3D Sentry in 2021, as part of the transition to the more modern and more capable fleet of three E 7A Wedgetail in 2023. The E 7A will transform our UK Airborne Early Warning and Control capability and the UK’s contribution to NATO. The nine P 8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will help to secure our seas.”

The first of the E-7 Wedgetails purchased by the UK to replace the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning And Control aircraft will arrive in 2023.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
2 months ago

Its remarkable how much more capable Chile is than its neighbour Argentina, courtesy of us and the Americans

Paul42
Paul42
2 months ago

Bad choice by us to retire E3D early, good choice by Chile to buy the remaining 3 airworthy examples. I cannot help but think they have far more common sense than the UK will ever have lol……

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

Why’s that then? we are buying a far more capable aircraft. Alongside the P8 fleet and Protector UAV’S, plus the RC135 and Shadow fleets, we are increasing our AEW and ISTAR capability.

Paul42
Paul42
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

We have withdrawn our E3s before E7 comes online leaving a capability gap……plus of course we have cut E7 to just 3 which only guarantees availability of just 1 airframe…..

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

This is typical of the MoD – withdraw a perfectly good piece of equipment, some years before a replacement is ready for service! We all know this has gone on for many years and always leaves the UK with a capability gap. However, I think the general attitude has been that, as we are members of NATO, our partners will provide any essential cover that is required.

Mark B
Mark B
2 months ago
Reply to  MikeB1947

Yes I suppose the UK fills more than a few gaps in the abilities of our allies.

Christopher Allen
Christopher Allen
2 months ago
Reply to  MikeB1947

Yeah, you would’ve thought they would have learned their lesson from scrapping the Nimrods without a replacement ready.

Johan
Johan
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

You have to understand that with the Current typhoon and F35s and the retiring of the Tranche 1 typhoon and T1Hawk, We dont actually need a E3s . and by the time the E3s were inspected and serviced the E7s are here. R1 Sentinal fell the same way we have no requirement for that type currently.

Max Jones
Max Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

The UK has a more capable fleet by far, of course, but the two are on a completely different level.

Relative to its size and funding, Chile seems to be getting better value for money.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Max Jones

Chile is get 2-3 old,very high maintenance aircraft. Will they have the funds to maintain them, and fund flying hours that come close to daily flying the RAF enjoyed.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Max Jones

Quite possibly, I wonder what our maintenance cost will be?

Navair Projects F-35 to Need 50 Maintenance Hours per Flight Hour

https://www.defense-aerospace.com/articles-view/feature/5/179243/navair-projects-f_35-to-need-50-maintenance-hours-per-flight-hour.html

Navair

“The laser shock peening modification is essential to extending the life of the F-35B STOVL variant, and the ability to complete this procedure successfully allows FRC East to support this critical workload,” said FRCE Commanding Officer Col. Thomas A. Atkinson.”

https://www.navair.navy.mil/news/FRCE-completes-verification-laser-peening-process/Thu-12302021-1018

Last edited 2 months ago by Nigel Collins
Farouk
Farouk
2 months ago

Pardon the cynic in me, but I do wonder when this Government will sell off the Wedgetail 

Mark B
Mark B
2 months ago
Reply to  Farouk

When it becomes obsolete which should be quite soon

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago

Chile are the best and oldest friends we have in South America. Good deal for all concerned.

Jay
Jay
2 months ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Even though they now recognise Argies claim the Falkland Islands

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago
Reply to  Jay

Yep. The Chilean govt officially does as do Colombia and Brazil for example. Unofficially !

Last edited 2 months ago by David Steeper
Mark B
Mark B
2 months ago
Reply to  Jay

The Chinese claim the entire planet …. or is that tomorrows news.

John Clark
John Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Jay

It doesn’t really add up to anything though, they are just walking the regional political tripwire…

Having good relations with their neighbours makes good common sense and if means playing lip service to Argentine ‘relentless’ whining about Falklands, then so be it…

Peel away the politico speak and take note regarding this AWAC sale and Type 23 upgrades etc and you see where Chile’s loyalty really lie.

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

👍

Farouk
Farouk
2 months ago

Meanwhile Janes is currently reporting this story:

Opera Snapshot_2022-01-19_213450_www.janes.com.png
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago
Reply to  Farouk

I’m not surprised.

They have plenty of life left in them and are the useful variants.

Paul42
Paul42
2 months ago

Which of course is why the UK is ditching them…..

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

And where does all the sales revenue go? Hopefully not wasted somewhere else but on some needed newer or updated kit.

Bob
Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Hopefully not the treasury.

Jay R
Jay R
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Ukraine Army

John Clark
John Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul42

To be fair, they are ‘heavily used’ and would all have required wing center box replacement sooner than later among other rework.

I’ve no particular issue ditching them, providing we get another 8/9 A400’s to make up the lost airlift.

Bob
Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Farouk

I really hope there is plenty of life left in our C17s or we will be reliant on the A400 “Jack of all Trades” – too large for some tactical roles and too small for strategic lift.

Chris
Chris
2 months ago
Reply to  Bob

The Moose (C17) is a BOSS. It will last for decades and decades.

It will probably go down in history as the most capable airlifter of all time. Need a 70 ton main battle tank delivered to a dirt strip in the mountains 6,000 miles away? No problem. It’ll do a tactical descent and approach when it gets there too.

Last edited 2 months ago by Chris
Bob
Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

Yes, a pity we didn’t buy a few more while we had the chance.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Chris

“Britain’s armed forces have flown some 2,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine this week amid fears of an imminent, new Russian invasion.

George Allison, of the UK Defence Journal, a website focused on defence news, posted on Twitter a time-lapse of the flights, which he said began on Monday.”

https://news.sky.com/story/russia-invasion-fears-as-britain-sends-2-000-anti-tank-weapons-to-ukraine-12520950

skynews-ukraine-russia-uk-army_5647183.jpg
dan
dan
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Hats off to the Brits for doing something while Biden does absolutely nothing and tells Putin it’s ok to invade Ukraine. Ugh

shoreline
shoreline
2 months ago
Reply to  dan

I wish Republicans would get their story straight — you can’t seem to decide whether it’s “Biden does nothing to counter Russia”, or “Everything Putin says and does is correct and we should respect it” Make your minds up, guys.

Ron
Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  Farouk

Yeep saw that. I keep asking myself if it would not be better to sell these aircraft to the Department for International Aid, paint them white with a big red cross on the side and have international rescue. It would mean we keep the capability, reduce air frame time on RAF transport fleet and in times of need the RAF could take them back under their control.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  Ron

I like the idea.

In reality, is it doable? Who crews? Spares, base, fuel costs, all still needed. I assume they lack the expertise so would still be MoD covering that?

Ron
Ron
2 months ago

Hi DM, I did do some thinking on these issues, so lets start with the easiest ones first. Spares, I would think that the RAF has a spares supply so that should take care of the next few years as they would be handed over to the Dof IA with the purchase of the aircraft. Base, an RAF or civilian airfield that is underused. An example could be Cardiff Airport at the moment Cardiff is operating well below capacity. Fuel cost, I am not sure how it works at the moment, but I would think that the RAF puts a… Read more »

simon
simon
2 months ago
Reply to  Ron

if you painted them white with a red cross on there you would hugely restrict what they could be used for.

Ron
Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  simon

Simon, hi, not sure if you picked up on what I replied to. It was a photo of the Hercs that are to be taking out of service posted by Farouk. As they are transport aircraft I can see no reason why they could not be used by the International Aid Department for humanitarian reasons and then if need be returned to RAF use in times of national need. So that is the reason that I said if you want paint them white with a big red cross on them, or a big Union Flag with British Aid on them,… Read more »

simon
simon
2 months ago
Reply to  Ron

I think the issue is paint them white with a red cross. You cant them being using them for example delivering arms. simlear probloms were raised with the hospital ship

Ron
Ron
2 months ago
Reply to  simon

True, that is why I suggest that the herc get transfered to the International Aid Department, if an arms run is needed then they must go back to RAF control and painted in RAF colours. Yes this is the same problem with a hospital ship, yet these issues can be overcome by just following the rules.

James
James
2 months ago
Reply to  Farouk

This is the real travesty

Ron
Ron
2 months ago

We could need these aircraft at the moment, even if the software is a bit dated it would be better to have something than nothing in the current situation. I wonder who is doing the upgrades for Chile.

Rene Metcalf
Rene Metcalf
2 months ago
Reply to  Ron

Lockheed Martin has opened offices in Santiago Chile now and direct services for their Herks fleet and “ others” needs

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago

The gap left by retiring the E-3 sentry early is to be filled by the NATO E-3 aircraft. How this will work in practice I don’t know tho. They obviously feel it is an acceptable risk to take. There’s no point have old unreliable kit that doesn’t work when it’s needed to. It just soaks up money that’s needed else where. In an ideal world we would of spent the billions keeping the sentry aircraft upto date and flying for longer. But the monies got spent else where. Same with sentinel aircraft etc. I think UK gave up on trying… Read more »

Sean
Sean
2 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Definitely makes sense to sell them while the MoD can get some money for them instead of keeping them until they’re useless and then having to pay for them to be scrapped.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
2 months ago
Reply to  Sean

How much money they will get we will wait and see. I doubt it’s much. It depends if chile is taking the airframes only or all the systems as well. There options would be use as spares for other 707 related aircraft. Use as awacs as they are. Upgrade the equipment if obsolescence is an issue.
Full upgrade to latest E-3 standard.
Take the kit they have on there current awacs aircraft and move it to these aircraft. If there current issue is airframe life in the current platform they use

Emjay
Emjay
2 months ago
Johan
Johan
2 months ago

Based on the status of Ex HMS Ocean, which has been to sea 4 weeks since handing over to Chilie, these Very old very tired Airframes, will maybe fly once a month, yet currently are flying more hours in RAF service and have been retired. and currently we have no use for a AWACS as the TYPHOON and F35s dont need one.

Rene Metcalf
Rene Metcalf
2 months ago
Reply to  Johan

HMS Ocean was purchased by the Brazilian Navy. The Chilean Goverment “ blinked” and the Brazilians got in, while the Chileans were at sleep