Cuts to the RAF’s E-7 Wedgetail AEW Mk1 aircraft purchase “terrible portent for the UK Armed Forces” say experts.

The Human Security Centre say they are alarmed by the apparent decision to reduce the planned fleet of UK Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft from five to three.

Senior Fellow and Security and Defence team leader, Dr Rowan Allport, said:

“When Russian aircraft are probing UK and NATO air defences on a regular basis, one of the primary conventional wartime threat to the British mainland comes from low-flying cruise missiles which are difficult to detect using ground-based radar, and the complexity of the air environment facing deployed UK forces is greater than ever, the decision to reduce the purchase of E-7 Wedgetail aircraft below the already bare-bones planned fleet of five is very difficult to justify. Arguments that these platforms are vulnerable to modern long-range air defence missiles and low-observation fighters have merit, but the choice right now is either an adequate fleet of traditional airborne early warning and control aircraft or accepting a significant capability gap until more robust uncrewed systems of a type that are not yet in service anywhere in the world become available. The proposed cuts also set a terrible portent for the UK Armed Forces regarding the wider outcome of the current Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. There is no route to a Global Britain if we are unable to even provide adequate radar coverage over the North Sea.”

Senior Fellow Simon Schofield added:

“The decision to reduce the number of E-7 Wedgetails raises serious questions as to whether the UK will be able to maintain its NATO commitments. The proposed cut also ignores the critical role such aircraft have in generating situational awareness and providing air asset coordination in peacetime and during less intense conflicts – the latter including the ongoing effort against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It is vital that the MoD reconsider this decision.”

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Cam

I can’t say I’m surprised! I suppose it’s easier to slash the numbers now rather than when they have bloody arrived in Britain and been given a name. I hate the way our millitray has been weakened and continues to be!

Cam

I suppose Nato has awacs assets these days, they might even get our old airframes I read somewhere. Why do we continue to put up with cut cut cut! These are things we should protest, not made up systemic Racism that thee is no proof of when you get into it. And some of our richest citizens are black! Lewis Hamilton says he’s oppressed and racism stopped him!! but his bank balance and reach says otherwise…

HF

Not sure what this has to do with the point at issue, yet more cuts to the forces and their capabilities by a Tory government

Fedaykin

Well this is currently at rumour stage so we shall see…

TrevorH

Fair point.

TrevorH

Don’t worry a Labour govt will double defence spending…

HF

Well, they did initiate the nuclear deterrent, joined the UK in NATO, and when the Korean war began vastly increased defence spending, which eventually became around 10% of GDP.

Dave Wolfy

I didn’t know that Churchill was Labour – we do live and learn.

HF

You note I said deterrent, not research. Labour also continued in its maintenance and upgrading when in office.

lee1

Lewis Hamilton does not claim to be oppressed and has never said Racism stopped him. He says he suffered racism on his way through the ranks. That is not the same thing… How many of our richest citizens are Black? And what proportion of our rich list are Black? Pointing to one or two examples is missing the point.

Darren hall

AWAC to Racism…
whilst I may agree, not the place…

Robert Blay

It’s more capable now than it’s ever been. Just smaller, but the quality and capability of our equipment today is far superior to anything we had in the 80’s and 90’s, and far more deployable, and sustainable. We need to look beyond simple numbers of regiments, SQN’s and warships compared to yesteryear. We used to have a lot more kit yes, but also a lot more crap that wasn’t fit for purpose in many ways.

JohnHartley

Better not cut Sentinel then.

JohnHartley

defense-aerospace.com says the reason for the cut, is that the price for 5, went up from $1.98 billion to $2.68 billion. A $700 million increase.

Harry Bulpit

Given that we require at least 1 for uk air space policing, that leaves two spare. Now given that istar support is supposed to be are crucial contribution to NATO NATO what does this decision show. Can you really question why any nation would be hesitant to have us as an allie when we show such little support for our own armed forces.

Daniele Mandelli

By my understanding this would mean just 1 available, and surely UK only.

Hopefully no truth in it or part of a wider move where additional unmanned are procured? Are there any in use? Like Tritons or Global Hawk types as a ASCS?

Harry Bulpit

Yeah at least 1 would have to be in maintenance. That leaves no spare and 1 available for all British and NATO commitments.

Nigel Collins

Australia is purchasing Triton, are we intending to do the same I wonder?

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/australia-to-receive-first-three-triton-hale-uavs-by-2025

Daniele Mandelli

I thought the Tritons were for wide area ocean surveillance alongside their P8s?

AWACs or ASCS is a different kettle of fish.

Harry Bulpit

Tritons are indeed designed for visual surveillance and Australia is purchasing them for maritime patrol.

HF

They can’t all be available all the time. I would imagine 5 would have given at least 2, possibly 3, available at all times.

Harry Bulpit

I think given are focus on maintenance and the air frame being a 737 model I could imagine a high service rate with the type. However 1 is always bound to be invaluable.

GWM

There’s going to be a compromise due to US pushback, we will get 4 which is OK.Never been a fan of this plane, the radar is good but an old design and will probably be subject to obsolescence issues before the end of the decade which is why the Australians are all ready looking at a future replacement.We should have bought some of the SAAB planes they may be a bit small for the RAF but have UK content and would have been ok as an interim solution until a new NATO option is developed.

Robert Blay

We only operated 3 E3 sentries today. And so far, the RAF hasn’t fallen apart without them.

Daniele Mandelli

Good point. I was comparing with the original 7 E3s.

Would it be possible to have 3 purely for UKADR and a UAV type for expeditionary work? Maybe one is in the works?

Harry Bulpit

That being said is their any official source on this ridiculous reduction, besides a tweet?

Paul42

I sincerely hope this is untrue, it woukd be a clear example of gross stupidity at its worst. Any individual serving in a senior military post who genuinely believes this to be acceptable needs replacing…..

Daveyb

Is this announcement in the same light as the Army’s: “we are cancelling Challenger 2 due to required cost savings”? The RAF’s E3Ds are on their last legs, they suffer from a very high maintenance burden/poor availability and the radar system is several steps behind the current French and US versions. It is however, closer to the NATO aircraft. The E3D as a platform still is very good a detecting aircraft etc, but suffers against small stealthy targets, such as cruise missiles, drones etc. The E7A Wedgetail, is a significant step change in not only performance but also capability over… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I’m inclined to agree. It’s about time we had some RAF sided leaks, rumours, to go with the RN carriers and EM and the armies armour.

To me, ISTAR in all forms is a massive capability enhancer, a growth area, and niche capability the UK is well provided for.

Cut Typhoon squadrons before key enablers.

farouk

Whats the problem Daniele . Our Politicians know better than the rest of us, they (i have been well informed) have planned for the future defence of the country. The army and Navy will be combined and the future numbers will be a world class rowing boat, built in Turkey which will be crewed by a black, non binary LGBT+2 person armed with the latest iteration of the SA80, (But due to health and safety will not be issued with any bullets) Due to climate change the boat will not be fitted with an engine. The airforce will consist of… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Sadly, your joke and sarcasm is not far off Farouk.

John Fedup

Oh great, you have just provided a draft white paper that our idiot Canadian PM junior can utilize albeit it will likely require some further cost reductions.

DJ

Reduce the number of oars from two to one?

Hogstable

Fitted for not with oars.

Please keep up …😀😀😀

Hope you have a nice day

BB85

I think it’s likely true, if it’s not supporting British jobs it’s and easy capability to reduce. The problem is Boeing will turn around and day the R&D required to integrate it in the new airframe means they wont be saving much and def not 20% of the current contract amount.

Meirion X

The RAF will end up paying the same amount to Boing, but with less airframes! No lessons learnt from T45, then? This time, the decision will have Cumming’s finger prints all over it!

Pete

Or 40% 🤔😉

Nigel Collins

Filling a capability gap is the key.

Next-generation aircraft are not that far away now so do you keep investing in aircraft that will be superseded within the next ten years or limit the intended purchase order to fill that gap in the short term?

A possible replacement on the cards maybe?

21 SEPTEMBER 2020

“JAIC Smart Sensor plays key role in USAF advanced ISR pod prototype”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/jaic-smart-sensor-plays-key-role-in-usaf-advanced-isr-pod-prototype

Nigel Collins

And we might not be alone!

“The US Air Force (USAF) is likely to make major aircraft platform cuts in the next couple of years as it reorganises for near-peer competition against nations such as China or Russia, according to a report from the service’s new chief of staff.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/new-us-air-force-chief-of-staff-forecasts-aircraft-platform-cuts

Harry Bulpit

The USAF have had a long standing issue in that they have to many aircraft types, multiple of which can perform overlapping tasks. They alsonhave many legacy aircraft from as early as the 1950s. This puts a major logistical, and financial burden on them. Which intern impacts their operational effectiveness.

Nigel Collins

I totally agree with you Harry which is why they are investing in next-gen solutions to keep an advantage over potential peer enemies and clearly what we should be doing.

You can’t keep funding both!

“AFA 2020: US Air Force flies Next-Generation Air Dominance flight demonstrator”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/afa-2020-us-air-force-flies-next-generation-air-dominance-flight-demonstrator

Harry Bulpit

It is of course vital to maintain a lead in technology. But unfortunately these things don’t happen over time and America should have the resources and money to experiment and implement them. Where as it would be to risky for us to complete disregard all traditional assets for the latest in technology and theory as it would leave us venerable to failure.

Nigel Collins

And therein lies the problem, we don’t have those financial resources, so a cheaper option has to be found in the short term to fill our current capability gaps while investing what monies we have on future projects like Tempest.

Let’s wait and see if there is any truth in this post anyway!

Harry Bulpit

Tempest isn’t an awacs aircraft nor is the e7 a stop gap. It’s is the latest and greatest and we need it in numbers and we need them now.

Nigel Collins

Note, “future projects like Tempest”

As reported by Waddi below.

“In a nutshell, the report says that new missile technology is in danger of making much of the RAFs inventory vulnerable.

ISTAR fleets would have to stand off outside their effective sensor range during the initial stages of combat operations, rendering them less useful.”

https://rusi.org/publication/occasional-papers/combat-air-choices-uk-government

Nigel Collins

We have to make budgetary adjustments sadly which no doubt will see a reduction in planned orders in certain areas, but the smart play will be looking to find a suitable cost-effective replacement short term and focus our efforts on the long. We can speculate all we want, but the proof of the pudding will be in the next defence review, hopefully, the reduction in numbers will not in fact be the case. The ability to track low observable objects at greater range by both Russia & China is causing the west a great deal of concern so we have… Read more »

Harry Bulpit

Will commence in 2029. So you will likely not see a physical prototype till 2035. Sorry no excuse we need wedgtail and in numbers.

Nigel Collins

That’s correct. as the article states. Personally, given the threat posed from the continuing advancements in Radar Technology and the cost per aircraft unmanned drones might just be a better solution in contested airspace rather than risk the loss of both the Wedgetail and its crew? As I have said, let’s wait and see the outcome from the defence review. I fully understand your point of view by the way! This might be a possible answer? It should be a very interesting decade, especially in the next five years! “Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts said the… Read more »

DJ

I would also point out that Australia was the lead customer & received its first operational plane in 2009. In 2029, it will be 20 years old. By late 2030’s (2039), it will be 30 years old. I see nothing unusual in expecting to be replacing 30 year old military aircraft. If Australia is prepared to be a lead customer again (rather than buying off the shelf), then 2029 seems a likely starting point.

Meirion X

The USAF will need to keep the B52’s in the air, until the B21’s come in service, if that is the plan?

Daveyb

The B21 is not replacing the B52 but the B1 and to some degree supplementing the B2s.

Robert Blay
Nigel Collins

@ Robert Blay “How do you spot a troll? Trolls are easy to recognize by their mode of operation. They will never compliment you for a smart statement, or admit that your question is difficult to respond to, or tone down the rhetoric with a smiley emoticon. Trolls accuse and insult. Trolls needle you relentlessly.” By his own admission. “The answer is in the article you shared Nigel. please see below. What are you like 16 or something. you’ll have to do better then that. See you at the next F35 story, I’ll be looking out for you. 👀” “🤣😂… Read more »

Nigel Collins

Social media offences.

“Trolling is a form of baiting online which involves sending abusive and hurtful comments across all social media platforms. This can be prosecuted under the Malicious Communication Act 1988 and the Communications Act 2003.

Online harassment can include repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications or contact in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear.”

https://www.cps.gov.uk/crime-info/cyber-online-crime

Robert Blay

And I could share some pretty tasty comments you have sent my way Nigel. But I’m not that sensitive. Maybe you should think twice before you send your posts, and realise you are opening your self up to criticism, and not everyone will agree with your own defense views. And admit, that you might be occasionally wrong.

Robert Blay

Yeah, but you always reply though Nigel. Do you call everyone who disagrees with you a troll. Free speech Nigel, free speech.

clive

I agree with Daveyb. I haven’t seen any official announcements so presume this is another of the myriad of rumours that always precede a defence review. Perhaps an option that is being considered along with lots of others. Some get great media attention like the rumour about Challengers being scrapped, others don’t and we never hear of them. At this time, each service is fighting its corner so eager to ‘leak’ options that they do not like. An option is just that; it is a choice and the consequences of that option are studied. Many will be taken no further,… Read more »

Gareth

You’ve got to wonder sometimes which country these decision makers actually work for. Given recent revelations about Tory party doners being close associates of Putin, such decision making is perhaps not wholly a mystery.

HF

Not unlike Russia’s Manchurian President in the USA, who’d rather believe Putin than his own intelligence services.

farouk

The Tories have shown time and time again that they are happy to stab you in their back in which to line their pockets,

Robert Blay

We have a large black hole in our equipment budget. It’s basic finances. To buy everything we want we have to either spend more, which given the massive hit to the economy due to COVID-19 probably isn’t going to happen, or we cut somthing back.

Gareth

I would find that more credible if we hadn’t witnessed years of cuts to the armed forces (including the disastrous 2010 SDR) before now. Coronavirus or no coronavirus, our national security has routinely been compromised to save money such that we have very little strategic depth should a major conflict arise. The COVID-19 pandemic just gives them more ammunition for excuse making.

Robert Blay

I understand we’re you are coming from, but the money doesn’t just come out of thin air, and modern military equipment is very expensive these day’s. We’ll see what happens.

Daniele Mandelli

I can agree with both sides during your exchange with Gareth,Robert.

As for money. The UK is one of the worlds biggest economies. If HMG wanted to they could allocate more to defence, rather than keeping it strangled. They choose not to.

That is a political choice.

And that has occurred with the Labour government 1997 to 2010 and the current Tory one.

Robert Blay

I agree it is a political choice, but nearly every country has cut back massively during the last 30 years, even the Americans. I guess we haven’t had a direct threat to the UK mainland, except in a terrorism form, and we have been fighting a land locked insurgency war for the last 19 years in one form or another. And that has required a certain type of capability, which unfortunately has come at the expense of other capabilitys. Is Russia and China the big threat they are made out to be, I’m not so sure, but they certainly can’t… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Hi Robert, that sums it up very nicely, here’s the TL;DR version:- “UK defence spending is trying to dig itself out of 15 years of peace dividend under-spending, overlapped with 15 years of insurgency spending largely irrelevant to the needs of peer and near-peer deterrence, overlapped with 10 years of great recession recovery. Now further threatened by 2/3 of a year of pandemic.” We at least have very low UK government borrowing rates available to us, that used judiciously can help mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic, help the broader economy recover and perhaps largely maintain most defence programs.… Read more »

Jonathan

Yes it’s all a balance, spending on tax based costs such as defence vs Ecconomic growth. I think a lot of people forget how the west defeated the Soviet Union. The west ( well Ronald Reagan’s administration) forced the Soviet Union to overspend in defence to keep competitive, it destroyed its fragile centralised Economy so ended the Soviet Union. Most nations and empires tend to fall due to socio economic stress, military defeat tends to be a symptom of this not the cause. Defence spending is important, but it’s generally dead money …..until you need it. Like most complex risks… Read more »

farouk

Whats the problem the money saved can be used to provide homes for our new loyal citizens who will be afforded everything they want for free. Not only that but the British taxpayer will also fund their holidays to the very countries they claim to have run away from.

Meirion X

It would be a very good investment to build a floating barrier in the E. Channel then!

Phillip

I’m assuming that the government isn’t aware of the phrase “false economy”, or else they’d see that buying less of something means you have to work what you have bought harder, and therefore it will last less time before needing to be repaired and replaced, which will be more expensive than simply purchasing what you committed to in the first place.

Forgive me for stating the obvious.

Meirion X

I very much agree Phillip!
I will end up costing more in the end, like the T45’s.
But this time with Cumming’s finger prints!

Paul T

Ive just had a quick look at the cost of these,Gavin Williamson signed a contract for a shade under £2 Billion,so reducing the order to 3 might save around £800 million,not enough for a Squadron of Typhoons or F35’s but still quite a fair chunk of money.

Nigel Collins

The unit cost of Triton is US$120.689m (FY15) US$182.378m (inc R&D)
Global Hawk costs around US$100m if they were suitable replacements to fill the gap if it indeed happensof course?

Alabama boy

I hope this is another kite being flown in advance of the SDSR which is due in Nov. Having worked on the original justification for 7 E3’s many years ago I never felt 5 E 7s were sufficient but were really all we could afford regardless of the capability claims for the new aircraft. When war fighting or in a prolonged a period of tension requiring a true 24 hour/ day coverage over several weeks, numbers of air frames and crews become very important. In such circumstances anything less than 5 E7s would leave a significant capability gap if we… Read more »

r cummings

5 is already wafer-thin. One will be in the garage/squadron reserve, one in deep maintenance/training/war reserve, the remaining 3 mears one airborne some of the time.
Three would be a feeble joke, militarily insignificant and undermine our defence

Bearing in mind that we have just had a major 20% cut due to the 2015 SDSR, which is adversely affecting every branch of every service, further cuts are a complete non-starter and would cement the Conservatives as a party that simply cannot be trusted on defence and national security.

Waddi

The following is from a recent RUSI publication will post the link below, may help explain this possible move? “A large-scale culling of non-penetrating mobility and ISTAR fleets and acquisition programmes in order to increase combat air funding over the next decade could make sense within the context of an Integrated Review which announced a specific focus on fielding credible high-intensity warfighting capabilities as a framework nation within NATO. In the context of deterring Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, or SEAD/DEAD operations against near-peer states, many existing ISTAR fleets would have to stand off outside their effective sensor range during… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

The problem with that is the likes of Puma, Hercules and other assets are used day in day out in non peer on peer roles, be it humanitarian, transport, or in support of SF. Puma is used in Iraq and Afghanistan. It could also be used in the UK obviously.

We end up with a military unusable for anything except full on war as the non peer compatible stuff is cut.

They are just excuses to cut IMO.

Daniele Mandelli

Just read the article. Very interesting. The elephant in the room, as always, is that HMG will not supply enough money to the armed forces, at officially 2% ( which we all know to be less by their accounting tricks ) yet wants to grandstand on the world stage as part of NATO and alongside the US as a UNSC P5 member. It always comes back to this. If HMG allocated just a few billions more each year, ongoing, this sort of funding crisis would reduce considerably. The choice seems to be Typhoon funding, Tempest, or F35. But not all… Read more »

Waddi

I agree entirely. I also took away just how capable the S400 and forthcoming S500 appear to be.

Daniele Mandelli

Yes, thanks for sharing it.

Maybe we should buy some! 1957 all over again..

Meirion X

Some of the Typhoon T1’s are trainers, twin seaters could be used for the OCU.

Graham

The 16 Tranche 1 twins have been scrapped for ‘reduce to produce’ spare parts the only Typhoon twins seaters are the six Tranche 2 aircraft. Nearly all the training is simulator based now.

Harry Bulpit

The article you quote isn’t worth much in my opinion. The author seems to neglect that most aireal missions are not conducted in or even near hostile airspace. In a time of war ISTAR, Transport, and basic combat aircraft are as important if not more so then high end strike aircraft.

NickC

As has been said numerous times, this is probably kite flying in advance of the review. If it is implemented it will leave a big hole in capability, and assets such as E7 are just as useful, if not more so in non peer to peer conflict as they are when we have a full blown face off with Russia or China. If the final two are pulled rom the programme the big winners will be Marshalls at Cambridge, who have the contract to refurbish and fit out the two aircraft, which I think are second hand. They have been… Read more »

Robert Blay

I’d take any of these stories with a pinch of salt until the review is published.

Glass Half Full

I see you your pinch and raise you with the full salt shaker. Ben Wallace has already said since all the rumours, that the UK will upgrade Challenger, which seems a pretty solid rebuttal this close to the review.

Robert Blay

😄 yep, I agree. I think we will see some cuts, but not as bad as is often made out. We’ll see. 👍

Jonathan

I’ve got a full 5kg sack of table salt to you shaker….

Mr Bell

Can someone please take Dominic Cummmings out the back and shot him please. Utter madness. I give up with the unelected quangos in government.
Ask the military what they need, they will say more investment not less with a resurgent and confrontational Russia and China to guard against.

Jonathan

I don’t think we are allowed to do that anymore Mr Bell.

Although I do think he should have been sacked for utterly fuching up the governments public health messaging during what is the worst public health crisis in a century.

Mark B

I suspect that if this was a wholly British product we would not be having this discussion.

We need our own defence industry. We also need a trade deal which is good for both sides.

Rob

3 aircraft means that there is absolutely no reserve if one is shot down. In a conflict one lucky shot takes out the whole of the UK’s AEW capability. Australia, a much smaller economy, will have more than us.

Crazy.

Steve

Wasn’t the idea for there to be 3 new air frames and 2 old ones, i wonder if this is just mixed up messages and not actually a cut.

julian1

Could they at least use 5 2nd hand airframes assuming that this provides some cost savings?

Mark F

So project Astra is full steam ahead much as I fear this is just the beginning. Transport fleet next C17 is on the cards. Pumas are a dead cert.

Alabama boy
Crabfat

Thanks AB. on the same link there’s a piece headed –
“LONDON — Britain is stepping up its military support in Ukraine with an announcement that the U.K. will lead a multinational maritime initiative to train the Ukrainian navy.”

So, ostensibly, we can’t afford assets to protect our own sovereignty, yet we are using what we’ve got to assist another (non-NATO) country.

And to what end? If the Bear decided to ‘do another Crimea’ the UK and rest of the world would just stand back and watch.

You really couldn’t make it up…

David T

I suspect that the drop in Ukraine makes up for the cancellation of the annual drop over Arnhem, cancelled due to Covid risk for the spectators.. The maroon machine must keep up its jump count.

dan

The Brits are going down the same round the Germans did. So sad.

Anthony Thrift

This is stupid, what is the government thinking, given the importance of the UK’s role within NATO and their role throughout Europe. For christ sake the RAAF operates more E7’s then the RAF, our E3’s are out of date, are we going to buy the SAAB alternative and operate a mixed force

Jonathan

It’s a non story guys….my mother’s brothers aunt told their dog than an MP they new thought p……It’s just a bit of postering. But please how on earth did this post half fill with comments on race, national guilt, empire etc etc….it’s not even an a piece about anything related to that…. I’m sure if you all want a blow out argument, someone could ask the nice Mr Allison to do a piece on say “the impact of British imperialism on modern geopolitical balance” or “the successes and failures of British post imperial foreign and defence policy”. I will join… Read more »

Robert Blay

I thought the same. How did Lewis Hamilton get involved in a story about E7’s 😆

Jonathan

I have have no idea, it may have been one of the most off on a tangent conversation strings I have ever seen on this site and lets be honest as a group of commentators we do tend to all drift in odd directions…..but the E7s Numbers being cut moving to a formula one driver….I literally have no idea….anyone want a game of monkey tennis……

Nigel Trew

This decision is very short sighted. We are in a new cold war situation with China and Russia but the government are turning a blind eye to it from my perspective. Defence spending should be increased to 5% for the next 10 years at least. All our armed services are too small, especially the RN. The surface fleet needs 12 X type 26 and 8 X type 31 with another 4 bigger type 45s with greater capacity for missiles. Bringing the surface fleet up to 30, this is the minimum size not a maximum. The Army would be hard pressed… Read more »

Andy

Nothing to do with Thatcher, I think you mean the end of the cold War peace dividend. So in 1985 defence spending was 5.3% of GDP in 1997 it was 3.5% of GDP in 2001 it was 2.8% of GDP , 2008 2.3% of GDP, 2011 2.2% and 2019 2.1% But the figures from 2011 are not relevant to the previous figures because of the Boy George packing the defence budget with things like pensions, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ costs and the replacement cost for Vanguard. If you remove those things he added actual defence spending is 1.7% of GDP… Read more »

Bill

So as soon as we get our MPA’s back, something else critical goes to ratshit.
Same old same old. We’ll never change.

clive

Same source says reduction to 4 has been discussed with Boeing. MOD spokesman said that it was usual to have discussions with suppliers about cost savings when appropriate. Not denying report as ‘pure speculation’ so I suspect MOD have had talks about reducing costs with Boeing. As is usual with this kind of thing it may be that the most drastic option was pushed to the journalist for whatever reason, but other ways of cost reduction could be being discussed…all secondhand frames, equipment changes, mitigating exchange rate fluctuations by more work in UK etc, with MOD holding out the option… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach

…apparent cut. anybody actually know anything?

Daniele Mandelli

Speculation Geoffrey. Let’s see.

JH posted further up a big cost increase for 5 which may be behind these stories.

David T

Get the Germans to put their hands in their deep pockets

Mark

Why should the Germans pay for a UK defence procurement?

David T

How many wagtails are the Germans buying? or the French and the rest?
Three is enough for us if we look after ourselves as priority.

Mark

The French have 4 E3’s, and NATO 14. Don’t know if there’s any replacement planned, but haven’t they had upgrades that the RAF ones haven’t?

Also for “Global Britain”, if you are intending to support Allies, you might want to be looking at having more than just the bare minimum to cover the UK with nothing spare for deployment I would have thought.

Again, this is a UK program with no international partners involved, the costs are for the UK alone.

David T

We have Sentry and will get Wedgetail to cover our own Global Britain interests. We pay the biggest European % £ for Nato so a chunk of the Nato-Otan planes are ours as well. Happy to support Allies who pull their weight.

Mark

Your Sentry’s are going away, 3 Wedgetails are if you factor in service and training barely enough to cover the UK. And how exactly do you think they are yours?

Glass Half Full

So while we digest yet another rumour in defence review silly season it is interesting, at least to me, to speculate on where ISTAR might be going. In the space domain, its likely in future we will have far more pervasive, robust and survivable satellite surveillance from high satellite count LEO networks. A lot of work going on in this area in the US, both leveraging commercial networks such as Starlink and OneWeb as well as dedicated LEO defence networks. In the air domain perhaps we might see Taranis or similar developed into an attritable long range, persistent, low observable… Read more »

Barry Larking

Someone has decided there will be no major or minor conflict in Europe that envisages the United Kingdom ‘standing alone’. There is also the question of technological advances that makes, or soon will make, placing personnel in a tube re-breathing air for many hours unnecessary.

Ron

Is three E7s enough, No, the Uk has commitments all over the world. Theoretically we need a few AWACS in Cyprus, possibly some in Oman plus NATO and home defence commitments. Its not only the E7s that could take a hit but remember Sentinel is to be scrapped as well. It seems that the complete intel fleet is being reduced to nothing but its intel that win battles. We either need a larger defence budget possibly 5% for ten years for equipment buildout reducing to 3% or we need to reduce our commitments. I sometimes wonder if it might be… Read more »

OldSchool

Oh God Political Correctness about the Ol’ Empire again. IF one wants such left-wing bias rubbish please head to the Philby Burgess & Mclean luvvies at the GUARDIAN. The BE wasn’t perfect but it was a damn sight better than what came before or after.

Daniele Mandelli

Lots of it lurking here I’m afraid Old School.

Barry Larking

Nothing makes the British Empire look quite so good as what came after it. I remember sitting in cinemas (if you could find a seat that had not been slashed) watching black and white newsreels of distant sunny locations where the natives broke off throwing stones at squadies long enough to scrawl ‘British Go Home’ on a sun-baked wall. Well, we came home and they followed us. To escape home rule.

Damo

So, the Guardian for left wing rubbish and UKDJ for right wing rubbish? Good to know.

David T

Discussion on potential cuts must include the fact that Mr Cameron scrapped our flagship and sacked our ground attack pilots and planes under the cover of ‘Austerity’ measures. The reality was, he then went and spent extra billions on extra Foreign Aid instead. For some reason, the crowd in the Westminster have not rolled this back to what it was before despite public opinion being for this. Until this happens, short of funds, we will have a fleet of harbour queens and the RAF and Fleet air arm will have to keep every airframe they have flying. Some of our… Read more »

Mark

Spoiler, you could give all the Foreign Aid budget to the MOD, it wouldn’t change anything, also do keep up the Foreign Office has already consumed the International Aid Department, so it’s their money now.

Daniele Mandelli

Agree with the overall lament on Cameron. I support overseas aid myself due to the soft power benefits but if an amount of it went to MoD instead I would not complain. Also, oft forgotten but of the 3 front line Harrier squadrons 2 were actually cut by Labour the year before, numbers 3 and 4 Sqns, while announcing the closure of Cottesemore. Made the culling of a single squadron fast jet type easier. A few years before JFH consisted of 1,3,4,20R, and 800,801,899NAS, 7 squadrons. All bar one scrapped by Labour. People often forget ( conveniently for some )… Read more »

RobW

It’s seems this is down to Boeing increasing the price from $1.9bn to $2.7bn for the 5 Wedgetails. If that is true I’d like to know why we signed a contract that allowed them to increase the price like this.

Talks about reducing our order have been going in for months according to some sources. It’s hardly surprising given the cost increase.

Mark

How much of that cost is the fall in value of the Pound against the Dollar?

RobW

Not much, the pound has fallen 4% against the dollar over the last year and is on par with where it was 2 years ago.

Alabama boy

On reading around on this subject I agree with RobW that this is more a procurement issue than on directly related to the SDSR. But I cannot image the MOD going back to the Government at this time for more money for a contract they only just signed. So they have to find a way of bring the cost back to that announced or find compensating savings elsewhere. Given that Marshall’s couldn’t accept the Boeing price to carryout the conversions I’d guess the cost of the conversions was underestimated at the first round. Conversion of second hand airframes is notoriously… Read more »

David Barry

Now that Sunak has put the budget to bed until next year, perhaps the unofficil leaks will desist. I really am not sure it is helpful to continue this practice – in times past when the Blimp would hurruf to the Times or Telegraph or the Admiral would grandstand in the House of Lords, it might have made some sense to be seen to be impacting on public opinion. In these times, how many give a stuff about defense? Now, if the leaks were X new orders would create Y new employment and Z growth, perhaps people would get behind… Read more »

John Hampson

I have posted this before but still valid and could help reduce cost for AEW. “Here’s an idea. Boeing has about 400 +/-, 737 Max planes in storage. The probability is these planes may never get permission to carry passengers. That’s if any passengers would trust flying in them. Why not buy a couple of dozen at bargain basement prices and convert them to missile trucks for F-35’s or basic Patrol/Strike/Ground Support aircraft.” EU aviation regulators have scheduled flight tests for Boeing’s troubled 737 Max plane. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said the tests would take place in… Read more »

Klonkie

I’m interested in understanding how the RAF/Government arrived at the number of 5 to start with. Is this a legacy thing or based on a scoped need vs platform capability? Clearly budget is a big factor. The French Air Force has operated only 4 AWACS platforms for several years. What has their experience been in terms of meeting operational requirements?

I’m no expert, but an RAF reduction to 3 platforms seems really light.

r cummings

The numbers needed in a aquadron follow a standard pattern. For every 4 front line aircraft, there will be one in squadron reserve/in the garage, one in war reserve/deep maintenance and, simplifying here, one covering training/attrition reserve. With the original 7 Sentrys, 4 would have been front line with a 5th available at fairly short notice. As no aircraft and crew are airborne for 8 hours, . anywhere near 24/7 AWACS coverage would need the full 7 aircraft. 5 cuts you down to 3 front line, which is obviously wafer-thin. 3 cuts you to 2 front line, which becomes rather… Read more »

Alabama boy

The French only bought 4 aircraft and the UK 7 each to meet its National operating requirements. The UK must have given up on their original operating requirements for AEW operations which required 7 aircraft and have resorted to buying only what the budget will allow regardless of the real requirement – the P8 purchase is another example of this. The Government will never admit this and keep talking about quality of individual platforms but not spatial disposition of the threat and the real numbers required to counter this threat. Of course the Government can decide it will not go… Read more »

dan

Brits going down the same road as the Germans. Hoping someone else will provide the capability and protect them. Ugh

Simon m

Seeing as this is a supposedly military site and not question time. I would just like to stay on topic and comment these are vital assets & I don’t believe that only three will be ordered the “journalist” that broke this story is the one & the same that broke the story that we were losing all MBTs. This was denied by the secretary of defence & as this is as far fetched as that story I take it with a huge pinch of salt. That being said I certainly don’t think we should overpay for this capability & there… Read more »

A. Smith

One would think that in relation to the safety and security of this nation, the UK Government would look at various options, put the contract out to tender, analyse and review the bids, play various defence companies against each other to get the best deal, highest capability and for the lowest price…. and what did they do? The complete opposite.

This Government is moving from one procurement disaster to another and at the same time, making our country less safe and wasting more and more billions of tax payer’s money.

A. Smith

Couldn’t we have repurposed 5+ BAE 146 aircraft and added radars onto them to save costs?