Stuart Andrew, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, has revealed that Final assembly of the E-7 aircraft and radar combination will be undertaken in the UK.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson recently announced that the Ministry of Defence is in discussion with Boeing about the potential for the E-7 Wedgetail aircraft to replace the current Sentry fleet.

Stuart Andrew recently said in response to a parliamentary question:

“Final assembly of the E-7 aircraft and radar combination would be undertaken in the UK and Boeing have confirmed that it intends to use the same facility to meet any future E-7 sales opportunities for other customers. Through-life, we anticipate that support and training would be undertaken within the UK, directly leading to UK jobs.”

The E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) System is able to fly for long periods of time and manage the battlespace from the sky, providing situational awareness and tracking multiple airborne and maritime targets at the same time. It then uses the information it gathers to direct other assets like fighter jets and warships. It has already been proven on operations in the battle against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Further discussions are set to take place before any investment decision is made. If selected, UK industry will be involved significantly with the programme, from modification work to through life support.

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Geoffrey Roach

Excellent news. Yet another step forward. Some very serious kit coming, all helping the UK technology base and providing well paid, skilled jobs.


I completely agree, good news.

M Winn

How up to date is this radar system compared to the SAAB offering? Hopefully it has plenty of upgrade potential.

Steve Hutchinson

About time too, so let’s get them quick (as well as the P8 Poseidon!!)


Perfectly sensible move, considering the E-7 is not in series production in the US unlike the P-8a or AH-64E setting up final system integration in the UK is not going to have the same cost increase impact.

Considering there is a very good chance that there will be further international E-7 sales shifting the work to the UK will be a mutually beneficial exercise. It also nips SAABs accusations in the bud.

Christopher Fox

Another sop from Boeing who’ve been shamed into this latest debacle by the MOD. The MOD had no intention of having any other solution. They’ve been cannibalising Sentry for years to bounce everyone into this purchase. I hope SAAB wins the contract! We’ve become far too reliant on Boeing. There might even be a solution from Japan, after all they have Poseidon but also their home grown variant. The more solutions you have the more you squeeze them for a better deal. The Wedgetail is far too expensive for what it is. Just think how good the Sentinel solution has… Read more »


“Another sop from Boeing who’ve been shamed into this latest debacle by the MOD. The MOD had no intention of having any other solution. They’ve been cannibalising Sentry for years to bounce everyone into this purchase.” – This assumes that the MOD has foresight and long term thinking at its heart. In reality the MOD will bounce from one funding related issue to the next and the run down of the Sentry is more to do with lack of planning and a desire to avoid spending money than any plan to get the E-7. I don’t get the impression that… Read more »


I don’t and most people in the know do NOT either, the SAAB solution is a paper plane.

Sorry fast typing missed a word

john martin

You can type fast. Wonders!!


I can touch type, it is a useful transferable skill.


Definitely. When I was a programmer early on in my career I worked in the USA for 3 years and it was a real wake up call to discover that pretty much all my US colleagues had been taught to touch type as part of their Comp Sci degrees whereas I and all my U.K. colleagues mostly did the “two finger peck” to get our code into the computer. For some reason it just never for a second occurred to any of us Brits that being able to type quickly and accurately is a very core skill to improve programmer… Read more »


Talk about “shooting his fox”, damn 🙂


Hmmm just noted ‘Setinel’ not ‘Sentry in his last paragraph.

Oh well, nevertheless the points about Sentry are valid in the context and ironically the Sentinel has faced similar issues.

Roger Roger

Does this mean we might be acquiring more E-7s…that is, enough to replace the Sentry and Sentinel aircraft. Can the E-7 do what Sentinel does?

Peter Crisp

How much work are we actually dealing with here? Is it just a case of both parts being flown in and bolted together as that doesn’t sound all that amazing even if I know nothing about the process.

This could be a surprisingly large deal or meaningless, which is it?


Pretty much what you suggest, final integration of systems that have already been produced in the US and Australia.

On the other hand if the UK becomes the final fit out centre for the E-7 as is being proffered by Boeing it is not that bad a deal.


How many planes are we getting? Like for like or the usual “it’s better, therefore we can cope with less of them”? Still good news though and happy things are moving forward.

John Clark

4 to 6 is the requirement, let’s hope 6, it’s a sensable number.


How can we go into procurement saying we want ‘between 4 and 6’ for our budget? Surely Boeing will just say ‘4 it is then’ whilst rubbing their hands together.


Very normal practice in Civilian and Military aviation industry, an order for four with time limited options for two more.

Geoffrey Roach

Anyone who would rather have an unproven design with no given budget with different support capabilities than the P8 and built somewhere else please vote now.


I’m all for doing more stuff ourselves again and building many new competitive industries, but not on this one. To little time and not enough budget to cope with cost overruns. We need to be looking 10-15 ahead now and identifying platforms and key technologies that we will be buying in bulk and invest in them and make them the best. Once they are ready, then we market them or variants of around the world. We don’t need to do everything ourselves, but I do want to see us doing a lot more down the line.


We need to learn from this exact circumstance so we are not caught short again, if indeed this is an area we would like sovereign capability.
We should be looking at the next generation of airframes and engines that are still on the drawing board which will have exceptional range, invest in our radar technology and control systems so it all comes together at the same time and leaves us ahead of the curve. Then we have something other nations will want to buy and lower costs for our own platforms.

Albert Starburst

YES! …and ditto for other sovereign strategic capabilities.


The Nimrod debacle never should have happened. To believe a 50 year old air frame could be re manufactured for anywhere near the same cost of quality of a new build airbus was moronic. Add that to fact there would be no possibility of follow on export orders. The people who made that decision would have disappeared had they been Russian. Had we selected airbus to make the aircraft we could have even funneled additional money for R&D for increased composites in the wings and body to reduce weight providing it was manufactured in Britain. This could be transferred to… Read more »


(Chris H) BB85 – Absolutely dead right. Something I was chuntering on about years ago. Nimrod had state of the art kit and brilliant crews. We had the money and knew how to operate them but some bright spark decided on the old Nimrod airframes were tickety Boo … Trying to fit larger hand made wings onto hand made fuselages of a basically a decades old aircraft as you say. With 4 engines. I thought the same when people were talking about Poseidon and suggested that a suitable A320neo would make a superb starting point for a Maritime aircraft. Having… Read more »


I think that’s absolutely right T.S.. We can’t do absolutely everything ourselves but we should be picking critical areas where there is volume, both for our own use and for export opportunities, and then get really serious about putting the resources in place and getting the focus and determination to do it properly and produce world-beating products in those areas that we do choose. For me this Wedgetail product space isn’t high-enough volume whereas something like a containerised drone that could host a good surveillance package and maybe even carry a few LMM plus designator as well could dramatically increase… Read more »


Yes, a British drone could indeed be a huge export opportunity, what about one based on Taranis?


I wonder what the donor airframes will be. Same as Poseidon would seem sensible.

Leo Jones

I was initially very disappointed that the UK Government has given up on indigenous projects and keeps buying off the shelf Boeing products (SAR helicopters, new Chinooks, new Apache, P-8 and now Wedgetails) but if we are doing this we should at least go all out to get the UK as Boeings main non US manufacturing and maintenance base.


I wonder why this and the Poseidon can’t be fitted with a refuelling probe?


They can be fitted with a refueling probe, the issue is the cost and certification.

The MOD so far has not been prepared to pay the integration and certification costs to add a probe to the type.

The MAA won’t allow a probe to be fitted without it being done properly and with a massive paper trail!

Matthew Cotton

Poseidon and Wadgetail are US designs configured for boom refuelling. US AirForces preferences.

As Fredaykin says RAF could develop a refuelling probe, but would have to undertake all the work and cover the costs.

Much easier to add a boom to Voyager air tankers.


Haddon Cave and Nimrod XV 230 are the drivers for modding aircraft nowadays . The lack of conformity control and Risk Managment of mods on Nimrod where the major factor in it crashing.
Today, if you want to mod an aircraft (and warships for that matter) you quite rightly have to jump through a lot of hoops before getting approval. No more cowboy mods to get a capability installed quickly. You need to do risk assessments and lots and lots of “what ifs” to move it forward.


Found some old (?) concept art for a probe:


Link doesn’t seem to upload.. anyway search string was ‘737 refuelling probe’ and it was the Airforce Technology article in case anyone wants to look.


I wouldn’t be surprised if Boeing has a concept study for probe installation on the 737, it is a normal exercise to give Engineers new to the company a project to allow them to learn the companies procedures. It has the added advantage that these studies can act as a starting point for future requirements. Nevertheless it is all academic, my personal opinion that getting a probe on the P-8a or E-7 would be a silly distraction that would slow down the induction of both types. If we want an organic refuelling capability for these types we would be far… Read more »


Agreed, as I have been trying to explain around here a ‘Can do attitude’ is not enough these days to get a mod on an Aircraft in these post Haddon Cave days! The MAA is the gate keeper and much paperwork is required…

Then again this issue extends way beyond Nimrod and the core fleet in respect of this issue. I would suggest people have a look at the long standing but very active thread on Pprune “Air Cadets Grounded”, it is truly horrifying and shows a dire breakdown in basic Aircraft husbandry by the MOD and RAF:


(Chris H) Fedaykin – Just a point of order if I may here. I made a general point that Boeing could (indeed should) install Drogue & Probe refuelling systems on Poseidon aircraft during manufacture. Repeat: DURING MANUFACTURE. That argument also now applies to Wedgetail given they are basically the same 737NG airframe. Boeing install all the internal plumbing, electrical and electronic safety and control systems for Boom refuelling in the airframe during manufacture anyway so I was discussing the front fuselage roof differences. I also pointed out that Boeing use Cobham for all the Probe & Drogue and Boom refuelling… Read more »


Sigh, yet again Chris H gets all huffy. Didn’t even mention you in this case. Oh well if you want another drubbing… “Just a point of order if I may here. I made a general point that Boeing could (indeed should) install Drogue & Probe refuelling systems on Poseidon aircraft during manufacture.” – Boeing could fit (or subcontract to an approved third party) the design and fit-out of Probes onto the P-8a or the E-7 but as for ‘Should’ no they are not a charity or morally required to satisfy your hang ups Chris. If UK MOD asks for it… Read more »


(Chris H) Fedaykin – You use terms like ‘Huffy’ and ‘drubbing’ and ‘hypocrite’ and you think you are being civil? .. Hmmm … And do quote where I have EVER abused anyone first off. Yes I will give it back when its dished out. Like for like but I NEVER start it. I argue I do not abuse. Maybe Google the difference after all for you every day must be a school day. I am on record with people I have ‘crossed swords’ with strongly that after the event I can still discuss matters in a friendly way and even… Read more »


“You use terms like ‘Huffy’ and ‘drubbing’ and ‘hypocrite’ and you think you are being civil?” – Not particularly, I am not usually that civil to those who seem to think their ideas are the ‘Solution’ to problems that don’t exist. “Hmmm … And do quote where I have EVER abused anyone first off.” – “Remoaners”, “Sweetcheeks” – Ring any bell for you? “Yes I will give it back when its dished out.” – That contradicts your above point, be consistent at least! “Maybe Google the difference after all for you every day must be a school day.” – You… Read more »


(Chris H) Gunbuster – I don’t think anyone was suggesting a ‘mod’ to any aircraft for the very reasons you give. Although the differences are only related to a front fuselage roof panel (as the rest of the refuelling systems are already in place and certified) of course this would need regulatory approval. I briefly suggested in an earlier Thread that Cobham were more than capable of doing the work (if sadly necessary) and are an approved supplier to do such work. Personally all I have ever suggested is that Boeing should deliver all RAF aircraft fitted with Probe &… Read more »


Taking a somewhat broader international view, I’m fine with the MoD asking for jousting lances to be added to whatever new aircraft the RAF purchase now or into the future. I am however perplexed that the Voyagers are only able to support droge refueling currently, and not boom. At issue is their capacity to support non-droge coalition aircraft (Belgian F-16s, Dutch F-35s, US P-8s, RAAF C-17s etc), as such they are limited in their capacity to loiter to support broad coalition forces in the most likely application they would be employed. Consider that the RAAF A330 MRRT tanker asset has… Read more »

Cam hunter

Again we will buy far to little a number! I bet we get 3 aircraft, maybe 4.

colin Watts

More signs of true commonwealth integration happening, all makes sense for a revived global Britain. Next stop Canada. Quantity has a quality all it’s own (the soviets coined that one), the best way to counter the Russians is with creating the finest kit in the first place, then building as many as is humanly possible for yourself and your allies. When everyone starts using their strengths as part of a team the results are incredible. Perhaps, perhaps…consider the ‘commonwealth’ as a team, imagine the combined brainpower of uk, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, each contributing what they are best at,… Read more »


“Stuart Andrew, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, has revealed that Final assembly of the E-7 aircraft and radar combination will be undertaken in the UK”

I hope I am right in reading that to mean the aircraft will be assembled here and then fitted out here. I emphasise the ‘here’ twice deliberately.

If so its a great step forward and opens a few doors for UK Incorporated.


I don’t think you understand what the Commonwealth is…

It is at best a semi ceremonial intergovernmental talking shop and certainly not a trade block.

Neither Canada, Australia or New Zealand are interested in forming some new Trade Block with the UK that will be weaker than the ones they are already members of. Canada, Australia and New Zealand are all far more interested in making trade deals with the largest and most powerful trade block in the world…The European Union


(Chris H) Fedaykin – Not sure the UK wants to form anther ‘Trade Block’ having escaped the EU Ponzi Scheme… But by all means project a false argument if you wish. I suspect your Remainer credentials are showing here and sadly your love of the EU (a foreign power) seems to have blinded you to the importance of the Commonwealth both to the UK and in global affairs, how that very Commonwealth came to our aid when no one else did and has done so often. Funnily enough especially when we were fighting Germany and trying to liberate the very… Read more »


I don’t think you understand what a ‘Ponzi-Scheme’ is Chris. The EU is not one so I wouldn’t try to take some high ground about false arguments…

“And I look forward to the UK retaking its place as a global free trading nation amongst friends and likeminded people of the rest of the world.” –

You are in for one nasty surprise…


(Chris H) Fedaykin – Oh yes I do: “A Ponzi scheme (/ˈpɒnzi/; also a Ponzi game) is a form of fraud which lures investors and pays profits to earlier investors by using funds obtained from more recent investors” The EU has some 6 nations (Investors) paying in every year (so recent investors) so that it can spread that money (or profits) to 22 other member states (or other investors). It then created a scheme called QMV that means it can buy majority support from the client majority 22. So 6 investors paying 22 to keep the whole system running doesn’t… Read more »


I don’t think anyone is advocating that anyone give up current trade arrangements to do a new trade deal with the UK. This unfortunately is the mentality of the so called “remoaners” with respect to their blinkered view on the EU. Of course you can have multiple trading relationships – something not possible as a member of the EU.


Five eyes alone is a market 55% larger, and 75% wealthier than the EU.

Maybe in 10 years they will approach it with a different attitude

Nigel Collins

While we seem to continue to build and acquire at a snails pace, in ever decreasing numbers? “Foggo says Russia’s new generation of submarines is highly capable and dangerous. Among the newest is the Borei class: virtually silent, nuclear-powered vessels capable of launching ballistic missiles. The Borei class is the main pillar of Russia’s underwater nuclear deterrent force, similar to the US Ohio class ballistic missile submarines. “This is beyond any doubt the future of our group of naval strategic nuclear forces,” the head of Russia’s naval forces, Adm. Vladimir Korolev, said recently at the christening of another new Borei… Read more »


Boeing are playing the long game, they don’t want the UK to procure an Airbus based aircraft effectively creating a competitor product, which if sold to the UK makes it a very credible alternative. Its said that an airbus with RR engines means 50% of the aircraft is UK made. I doubt this a full assembly of the 737 more likely conversion work similar to the work Marshalls already do and did for the UAE. One of the first jet engines First commercial jet airliner One of the first jet fighters First supersonic commercial jet One of the best selling… Read more »


I’m no aeronautical engineer, but the E-7 conversion appears to be a pretty significant skin re-build of the 737 fuselage and a major electronic transplant, not just bolting on a few extra bits. It is more likely to be specialist work and would mean that deep-overhaul servicing of the current E-7s (Korea, Turkey and Australia) could ensure continued skilled employment in the UK.


The point we have the skills already Marshalls just converted a G6000 for UAE see below. Everyone is worried we’ll go down the Nimrod route again but I don’t think that would be the case. I believe Boeing are genuinely worried that should the UK build an Airbus version they would have a real competitor. France would certainly purchase it.


The E-7 is a proven aircraft and military asset (no disrespect to the Nimrod), and it is a multi-national though admittedly limited. If the MoD does place the order, the UK can set its own destiny in the conversion, delivery and maintenance of the aircraft and really show it best.

The other opportunity is linking into the AWAC development platform for the system. This is a joint RAAF and USAF arrangement and the UK has a lot to offer as well as enhance to suit its operating environment.


The FREMM is a proven frigate and UK would have a lot offer the Franco/Italian partnership but yet we believe we can do it ourselves and designed the T26 now e have won to competitions with the T26. We could have bought Arleigh Burk destroyers but decided the to design the T45.

So why when it comes to aircraft do we just give up and by from the US.


I have come to the conclusion after some thought this week that this Forum isn’t fun for me any more so time to shut my little corner down. To those with whom I have had a laugh, friendly banter, ex-mob piss taking and some rigorous but friendly debate thank you. I will miss that.

To the others?……

Thanks to DJ also for some informative articles all done on a voluntary basis. Much appreciated. Take care you lot and may I be the first to wish you ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’

For 2019…..


Should have clarified its Chris H…


Lee H

Hi Chris(H) Shame to see you go, sites like these need the F and R as much as they need you, me D and G. They need a bit of NC and a bit of H. These are exciting times in defence and a balance in the blog sphere is sometimes a good tonic to what goes on in the fun bus that is the big smoke. It is always impressive to see those with such passion that they keep an eye on the archive, look for a miss quote and look for an assumption of fact when only opinion… Read more »


Sad to here that Chris, I sure you’ll be missed your certainly passionate about the UK and our armed forces.

Good luck.

Cam Hunter

I’ve just started on UKDj, and I read all your comments and I like and agree with most of what you say. But if you have to leave then fair well and all the best.?


Note to self: Avoid future questions regarding inflight refuelling equipment.


Just a thought, if the Americans, French and Saudi’s are keeping their AWACS fleet, is it worth Britain refurbishing its E3D Sentry fleet to the latest standards. Maybe get 10 plus years more service out of the surviving 6 aircraft fleet, although spare parts will be a bigger problem. I understand they could have a lot of hours left on the airframes, since only 2-3 are available at any time. It looks like the once 7 E3D Sentry fleet has been underfunded and cannabalised for years. Whats to prevent the MOD doing the same to the future Wedgetail purchase in… Read more »