The first of three new E-7 Wedgetail aircraft for the Royal Air Force is about to start conversion work.

STS Aviation will convert 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.
Boeing said on Twitter:

“Wedgetail has reached another milestone, with the UK Military Aviation Authority (MAA) approving Boeing and STS Aviation to modify the first aircraft in Birmingham. Working with Defence Equipment & Support we’re one step closer to delivering the first E-7 Wedgetail for Royal Air Force.”

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.”

You can read more about the cut below.

UK cutting E-7 Wedgetail order

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Gavin Gordon

So long as it steers clear of discussing Covid.

Herodotus

Conversation work? Are they just discussing it at the moment then?

Gavin Gordon

Aw, George has spoilt the fun.

Tony

not in the URL he hasn’t!

captain p wash

First of three…… Yeah Yeah….. heard it all before…..

Reaper

3!

James H

It feels like a constant cycle of cuts now to pay for something in the future even if its just a concept at the moment, then in 10 years time we will only order 2 of those because something else might be developed.
A bit like cutting 4,000 soldiers, how much are we actually saving by cutting these 2 planes compared with the capability lost.

captain p wash

Exactly mate.

Damo

Thing is, forgetting the latest announcements, do you think we could cut 4k soldiers without impacting combat effectiveness? I’d say, yes, comfortably. Will the latest cuts be in the right places? Nah, probably not

David Flandry

The cuts in 2010 by Cameron/Osbourne, may their names be damned, demoralized the defense forces. Promotion opportunities were reduced, pay was affected, all with a cascade effect. The ratio of officers to enlisted increased to an absurd number. The Army could not even recruit enough to maintain a force of 82,000, so it went down below 79,000. These cuts will have an even worse effect. Just look at the Netherlands Armed Forces for a future look. Dum and dummer.

Nate m

kinda surprising to see a conservative cut back on defence. that’s kinda liberals or labours job.

Ian Skinner

The Tories actually have a pretty poor record on defence from Duncan Sandys onwards.

Nic

What incentive exists for the youth of today to join the armed forces, when they see cut back after cut back

Gunbuster

Pull up a bollard and I will tell you a dit…. RN CPO Engineers (Artificers) had their pay and responsibilities graded by the AFPRB against equivalent civilian jobs. One of the jobs that was deemed a s equivalent was a British Rail London to Edinburgh InterCity Train Driver.( British Rail…yes that long ago!) Now a days there is no way a CPO gets within 20K of a train driver who is probably on 70k + for a standard 40 hr week. Add in to that the Armed Forces Pension changes have seriously disadvantage new joiners and there really is no… Read more »

BB85

What I struggle to understand is how can government spending be his highest percentage of GDP since the 60’s and I’m talking pre pandemic but we have no money for the armed forces.
Health is still screaming for money despite money being thrown at it. Their must be a gross level of inefficiency and vest interests milking the system. I think pensions are still a big concern but why can the government not just grasp the nettle and promise higher wages now if pensions are moved to defined contribution like everywhere else.

Robert Blay.

These cuts are nothing like 2010. Which also had a huge black hole in the defence budget to sort out

John Clark

I would have to agree Robert, Cameron’s defence cuts were reckless and utterly random. It was purley based on saving money and in my opinion actually put the country in danger… This new review is markedly different, there’s actually some thought gone into it. We must embrace the future and all the edge it could bring us. We’ve spoken before about weapon systems like Spear3, coupled to this, we will see advanced electronic attack, cyber and physical that will leave old fashioned conventional forces behind and totally outflanked…. A great example, in the late 2020’s, take a small force of… Read more »

James H

Maybe but we are cutting these 4k soldiers to save money not because we dont need them thats not a good place to be when its so hard to replace them at a later date. No one could have predicted some of the deployments in the past 20 years, having less men reduces what can be done in the future but like everything the government thinks if you make something better you need less of them.

Nate m

but why is this. isn’t our economy big enough? thought we were the 6th richest by GDP out put.

Damo

In part to pay for the high tech gear, in part to pay for furlough. Furlough may well have added incredible levels of debt but it’s prevented mass redundancies and serious social disorder. We just need keep the debt in check while future generations foot the bill….

Nate m

so basically we are on a knifes edge…

James

Like most economies in the world right now yes.

James H

But its how you spend the money, think how much money was spent on nimrod and warrior alone. Slow builds to save money per year but not in total, indecision on what is wanted. Its more about value for money then anything.

Nate m

ya look at how that turned out. you guys are extreme patriots who’s patriotism clouds their judge. we can employ the same tactics that we used to build up our empire. we need to evolve to a changing environment. our enemies knows us and we need to change. we can’t just have quality all the time. we also need quantity sometimes. Britain in the 60s, 70s and 80s is a perfect example. we had quality stuff like the buccaneer or hunter or chieftain but we had them in large numbers which made us more potent.

Robert Blay.

We had a huge amount of crap kit in those decades Nate.

Airborne

Nate some of that stuff was ok for the time, most, Army at least, was total shite. Was purely a numbers game before tactical nukes were used, by NATO, as the Russkies drove a wedge in NATO land forces. Nowadays, all that BAOR kit would be wiped out in moments, without evening knowing it. Numbers are important, yes, and we should never go below a fixed point….but like I have said prior, its not top trumps, its about ability and capability mate. If you dont spend money on the best kit, comprised with good training and good people, you will… Read more »

Robert Blay

Totally agree 👍

John Clark

Spot on Airborne….

Daniele Mandelli

What this man says!

Numbers too low still mind.

expat

Defence in just 2% of GDP, politically spending on other areas always gets more votes. The NHS for instance is untouchable is the ultimate political football with parties competing to outspend each other. You can discuss openly about our armed forces being more efficient and making better use of their budget but any politician trying to start a similar thread on the NHS would be shot down immediately.

Robert Blay.

We spend 2.2% of GDP on defence. Modern defence equipment is vastly more expensive than it was in the 80’s and 90’s. Despite our small size, our Armed Force’s are much better equipped compared to 20 years ago. We had more kit, but we also had a lot of crap. Successive governments have made a mess of defence spending plans, both Labour & Conservative. Tony Blair liked going to war, but didn’t like paying for it. Add in trying to convert our Force’s from a cold war static force, to a globally deployable force fighting land lock insurgency conflicts that… Read more »

Nate m

ya the cheiftains and bucaneers are bs now but they were cutting edge back then. could take on any Russian adversaries. point is we need have quality and quantity.

Robert Blay.

And how do you pay for that? we already have a 190Bn equipment budget. We are also facing huge economic damage from COVID. All this kit needs to be paid for somehow. And with no direct military threat to the UK, Increasing defence spending is a hard sell. Destroyers and fighter planes don’t directly affect many people’s daily lives. The NHS does, your kids standard of education does, How well yr grandparents are looked after does. Don’t get me wrong, I’m massively pro defence. But we have to be realistic about what we can afford, what are the threats, and… Read more »

Nate m

next thing you their gonna reduce our size to 50 personal and claim we are unbeatable! we are becoming like Germany after the treaty of Versie except we are doing it by choice! next thing u know we are gonna be like japan and only use our armed for self defence. oh wait except we aren’t having hard sanctions being thrown at us instead we are doing it by choice! lets just hope we don’t pull out of NATO and become Switzerland. But I shouldn’t get my hopes up because we probably will.

Last edited 5 days ago by Nate m
Robert Blay

To understand some of the decisions made, you need to understand the modern world. I don’t like cuts as much as the next guy, but the world is changing quicker than we can adapt. And we technology to keep up. We are not fighting yesterday’s wars. And we cannot keep thinking we need to equipped and man our Force’s for yesterday’s wars. The order for 3 E7’s for example. 5 would have been great, but even 3 will provide more operational output than 5 E3’s. Much more capable, and they will achieve a far higher availability rate. And in 10… Read more »

Nate m

i am very pissed at the moment so plz don’t write anything that will piss be off ever more.

James M

Right, they were cutting edge in the 60’s, but everything was a lot more basic back then. Cutting edge today is stealthy, high speed, sensor fusion, etc. It adds up quickly when the cutting edge isn’t just “a fancy radar”.

Supportive Bloke

I think we may actually be at the peak of the cost curve for things like aircraft. With rapid prototyping following the ever moving wheel of the design committee, is hopefully, at thing of the past. Lack of design certainty on begets lack of cost certainty. Now a lot more of the sophistication of the device is in the software – rather than the black boxes. So once the software modules are understood and tested they form a common library that can be redeployed at will. Networking ceased to be an issue from T2 Typhoon when it when it went… Read more »

Robert Blay

I agree completely. Updating military equipment will be like updating the app on yr phone. Software and open architecture are the key drivers. I think we will see some very exciting developments over the next 10 years, and we are already seeing a different way of developing new equipment. The concept behind the T31 being one of them. 👍

Nate m

but will we make it out the concept phase? it did happen with the Nimrod and the stealth fighter program.

Nate m

lets just hope so.

James M

Obviously the issue with that then becomes procurement contracts. If the civil servants don’t specify open architecture, the kit won’t use it. After all, that just makes it easier for a rival company to get the upgrade contract. In an ideal world, I’d like to see some kind of open architecture system co-developed within NATO to essentially make everything plug and play, so long as it uses that architecture. Want to use a new missile Sweden has developed for Gripen 2? Just buy them, do a software update, and load them on your Tempests. Want to put the new Link-37… Read more »

Airborne

Spot on Rob.

Robert Blay

Thanks mate 👍

Ron

It’s not a used one is it Boris???

Andrew D

How many do AUS have ?

dan

At least 6 I believe. Australia takes their own national defense very seriously and doesn’t expect other’s to defend them unlike most EU countries.

Rogbob

True, but we also have 18x NATO E3s and USAF E3s all in a smaller space than Australia has.

Australia relies on Allies entirely for MAD defence. The UK has a massive commitment for nukes, Successor trouncing all of the investment in carrier strike, surface and air platforms.

But yes. the Aussies are to be respected for their commitment and what they get for what they spend. Although Tiger, NH90 and to a lesser extent Collins/AWD show they have their own procurement disasters also.

John Clark

Very true, Tigers been a disaster, the Australians are doing what they should have done in the first place and replacing them with superior AH64’s…

Why buy an inferior attack helicopter, it can carry double the war load of Tiger, or the same load, twice as far.

The E model just takes that lead and puts it a mile ahead of Tiger!

JohnN

One thing to remember is when the Government here in Oz selected the Tiger ARH, it was 20 years ago.

At that time the AH-64 was not the AH-64 model/version of today.

Tiger promised a lot, but history will show it didn’t deliver on that promise, the actual airframe itself is impressive, but as a ‘weapons system’ not so much.

Cheers,

Pablo

I need to correct you on the Collins Class subs. True, Australia had early teething issues with Collins, but since then they have developed into one of the best conventionally powered submarines in the world. The AWD were also an early problem child but are now one of the best vessel of their type going around. They pack a punch both in terms of air warfare and ASW. I do feel for my English cousins regarding your military. The once peerless British navy, army and airforce are a shadow of their former glory – sorry! Let’s hope things turn around… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Pablo
Rogbob

Sorry but the Collins had decades of issues. Even Wiki says they only acheived reliability after 2 decades.

The UK’s elephant is the nuclear deterrant, without it (which I dont support), conventional forces would be far larger.

Australia is able to piggyback strategic deterrance from its Allies, as most of Europe does.

JohnN

The technical issues with the Collins class has been long resolved.

There were sustainment issues, they too have been resolved.

It’s worth reading the ‘Coles Review’ articles on the resolution of sustainment shortfalls.

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=coles+review+collins+class&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en-au&client=safari

Cheers,

Airborne

I would say all modern navies are shadows of their former glory, but even as numbers reduce, the RN is more capable, balanced and effective than any other European Navy. Yes we ned more escorts, Merlins, couple more Astutes wouldnt go amiss, but we wont, so crack on and get the best use out of what we have. We have niche capabilites that others dont, weaker in some areas etc but very rarely will any Western Navy operate in isolation, and therefore we become a more effective force with our allies. Respect to the Aussies though, good forward planning and… Read more »

Andrew D

Maybe we should take a leaf out of there book ,agree there do seem to take defence seriously these days.

Jonathan

To be fair Australia is like well you know a sort of a continent and the Pacific is really really really big….( like 1/3 of the entire surface area of the plant big). Where as the U.K. is more in the largish island range and the North Sea/ western aproaches sort of a bit puddle like compared to the Pacific. so if you look at it by area of air space needing monitoring The Australians would need around 30 times more cover than the U.K….so it’s not they have 6 and we have 3…poor use… .it’s more…how the hell do… Read more »

TwinTiger

The RAAF also have 6 MQ-4C Triton UAVs on order for wide area patrol, plus they have developed the Jindalee Over-The-Horizon (JORN) radar system which is operating 24/7.

Nate m

ya unlike us

Robert Blay

We take defence extremely seriously. Don’t be naive.

Daniele Mandelli

Irrelevant really. They have a huge country and wide oceanic area to cover.

Unfortunate though. I hope UAVs will take up some of this mission.

Herodotus

Anyone entering the ‘Mastermind’ quiz show will now only need one answer to every question posed….UAV. It’s a pretty bullshit answer at best!

Daniele Mandelli

Morning. Yes, and it’s an acronym even you can understand!!!

Herodotus

Oh, you don’t need to understand the acronym….you just chant it as you kick the can further down the road!

Airborne

But its the way forward, UAVs, if the will and money is prepared to be spent. While we obviously need a balanced force, remote and unmanned will feature much more highly in our planning (or bloody should) Cheers.

Herodotus

Well I agree that they answer some of the needs going forwards…but by no means all of them. For a number of very good reasons, we should not be overly reliant on this technology. And after all these years of promises of jam tomorrow, what do we have? Some bloody cardboard cut-outs and endless business ballocks speak from the MOD. I think, like a number on this site, that the present government is dealing from the bottom of the pack!

captain p wash

I have an Idea….

Airborne

Correct they will be excellent and essential force multipliers and enablers but we still need balance, and, as for jam tomorrow, with maybe another election or two before most of this comes to fruition, we may be not so much getting jam, my rather cynical self thinks it be more like a small strawberry at the end of It!!!! But im hoping im wrong….Cheers.

DaveyB

The RAAF are looking at getting a few more Wedgetails. But they also supplement them with the MQ-4C Tritons.

Daniele Mandelli

Indeed. Could Protector help here?

JohnN

Sorry but that is not correct, currently the RAAF has no plans to procure additional E-7A Wedgetails beyond the current six airframes.

However, there is a project due to start in 2029 to look into the eventual replacement of the E-7A fleet, replacement will start in the mid 2030s, the new fleet will be a larger number of airframes.

http://www.janes.com/amp/details-emerge-on-australian-wedgetail-replacement/ZnlJK3dHVU9mZ28xajRJVkc5dVI5VFp1cVMwPQ2

Cheers,

James H

I’ve always been curious, with the rush to drones if facing peer adversaries, how useful would a AEW drone be if our satellites were disrupted.

Last edited 5 days ago by James H
Jonathan

Yes what he said, stop comparing a grape with a water Mellon.

Glass Half Full

UAVs seem to be a given for future AEW. We see the RN plan to use the Vixen fixed wing UAV for AEW and comms/data node in the slide posted the other day. The RAF are likely to go the same way for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is resilience. Flying large, essentially commercial, aircraft in range of modern air defences isn’t likely to end well, despite their countermeasures. That’s why Sentinel went and its probably why we’ll see fighter jet tanking and AEW, both using large airframes, go the same way for deployments close to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Can Protector carry an AEW payload? I’d read of it being used in conjunction with P8 as Maritime Protector, which is excellent.

For that matter, use it with a SLAR for Sentinel role?

Glass Half Full

The short answer to Protector supporting AEW capability is probably yes, but it depends on what we define AEW to need in terms of radar frequency/wavelength and size/power/range/target discrimination capabilities. We also shouldn’t overlook fusing other sensor capabilities. It then needs software and processing power to take advantage of the sensors, which may want/need to be off board from an UAV, which requires high bandwidth secure comms. Crowsnest is X-band non-AESA, Erieye is S-band AESA, Wedgetail is L-band AESA, E-2D is UHF AESA. There’s a world of difference between the first and last radars in that list. The goal of… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Fascinating stuff. Thanks as always.

dan

Only 3. Ugh

Paul42

Yes, the lunatics are running the asylum, its an absolute disgrace! I note E3D to be retired in 2021 and first E7 comes online in 2023? So without any AEW in between we’ll demonstrate our complete stupidity and beg assistance from our allies?

Stand Off Rocket Man

I’m new to all of this, so a little out of my depth. How many such aircraft does the UK really need to do the job properly?

Rogbob

None. The UK is well covered by surface radar posts. These are for more expeditionary purposes.

Supportive Bloke

Ummmh

A radar head looks sideways and upwards.

A E7 looks downwards and sideways – OK can look up too.

The two compliment each other to produce a better fused radar picture.

Rogbob

Umm except they dont. Because our E3s arent used for that in any kind of standing patrol over the UK, nor launched with QRA.

Paul42

Minimum of 5, preferably 7 to cover any overseas commitments.

Nate m

along with the rivet joints that’s 6 so I guess rivet joints for home stuff and e7s for over seas. but the f35 is capable of signal intelligence and recon soooo…..

Daniele Mandelli

Nate. Rivet Joint and E7 are totally different aircraft. F35 for all its wizardry is no RC135 either. And RC135 won’t be at home but deployed near potential adversaries.

Nate m

ok

Daniele Mandelli

No worries.

Just to expand, RC135 collects signals and electronic intelligence on adversaries systems. ( SIGINT and ELINT ) It’s main customers are GCHQ and the US NSA within the 5 eyes intelligence umbrella. Only the UK and US operate them.

The E7s are basically flying radar ( AWACS ) that also monitor the battlespace and direct fighter aircraft.

Given that the UK sits within NATO ADRs and there are other NATO AWACS assets and a comprehensive air defence and monitoring system in place I place the RC135 at far higher priority myself.

Meirion X

It’s an interesting question, if an F-35 would be fitted with an high resolution camera under the fuselage for Reconnaissance, Ummm!
Opening the bay doors for any kind Intel garthering would compromise the stealthness of the F-35!
Also any kind of pod attached can reduce stealthness.

Last edited 4 days ago by Meirion X
Nate m

yes but there’s an Arial manoeuvre used by pilots for generations. it called a pylon turn. it gives you a very good view of the area. so I guess it can be used to work out rough compositions of units or buildings. they also used this for battlefield recon during the gulf wars and war in Afghanistan. plus the Americans said the f35 is capable of signal intelligence. soo..

Daniele Mandelli

Yes, tactically over the battlefield, like the 2 GR4A Squadrons we had with the RAPTOR pod.

Rivets are Strategic assets.

Stand Off Rocket Man

So I got some diverse answers. Anywhere from 0 to 7 are required.

I wonder if this diversity of views is one of the reasons we have a dwindling military (in terms of numbers)?

Daniele Mandelli

Not really. The original AWACS Sentry fleet was 7, soon reduced to 6. Recently the RAF have as few as 4 I believe. We have a dwindling military in numbers but not capability. And the MoD have decided in this case to spend money elsewhere. That does not mean I support that, numbers are already too few in most areas. But what is the alternative? We could buy the 5 and cut something else instead? The MoD have to juggle the resources they are given. I also wonder if it is true that Boeing increased the price of the 5… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Daniele Mandelli
Stand Off Rocket Man

Of course the real alternative is to increase spending to 3%, but industry might just then inflate it’s prices. The other alternative is for the MOD to stop squandering tax payers’ money through poor procurement practices and so on. Yet another alternative is for industry to actually start being less money hungry and more concerned with the defence of the realm. All fantasies, of course… How I miss the 80s when, as a kid, I had books outlining the size of nations’ militaries. I never remember seeing such pitiful numbers as 3 or 6 or 7 of this or that… Read more »

Last edited 5 days ago by Stand Off Rocket Man
Daniele Mandelli

Likewise. I was a teenager then, remember numbers well.

Nate m

well in the defence review Boris said that he will increase spending over the next 4 years by 40bn pound. soo.

Stand Off Rocket Man

True, but 40bn is a drop in the ocean in the larger scheme of things. There will be no way near the numbers of the 80s anytime soon.

Rogbob

Why do I have such an overwhelming sense of deja vu with this project?

Excess cynicism? Too much experience of reality?

Nate m

One word: Nimrod.

David Flandry

Three aircraft is not enough to guarantee one aloft at all times. But MoD bean-counters won’t be responsible for air defense of an entire nation.

Robert Blay.

Apart from the 190bn equipment plan.

Daniele Mandelli

Is a Sentry aloft at all times? As Rogob mentions above I’m not aware of our remaining AWACS in regular use in the UKADR.

3 is a shame but I take this in light of other developments in the field.

Nate m

Oh of course not! we are British and therefore, must rely on other nations to the other part of our operations. take Falkland’s war for example we need the Americans for transport. ( i am joking btw don’t take this seriously)

Daniele Mandelli

Falkland’s war for example we need the Americans for transport.”

We did?

Airborne

Please give examples as im not aware of that. We had some int, some sidewinders and political pressure on the French, but as for loggies…..?

captain p wash

He did write, ( i am joking btw don’t take this seriously ).

Airborne

Very strange chap methinks….

Daniele Mandelli

I took that to refer to the first bit being in jest, then the second as an example.

Nate m

why did look like the nose was made of wood?

Herodotus

Because the defence budget is managed by Pinocchio!

Nate m

we need a strong leader to replace Boris. at the moment “global Britain” is making a good impression.

Herodotus

I believe Stephen Yaxley is available! As for the ‘good impression’, that’s just Boris’ backside on the seat squabs!

Nate m

ya we don’t want a British hitler. maybe someone a little less extreme and more focused on rowing our hard and soft power without the murdering on innocent people. I am for people with skills that can help the countries grow whether that’s military or economy no matter their race. if u don’t have any skills and don’t have a British citizenship then sling ur hook.

Nate m

in terms of defence

Herodotus

UAV….it’s the answer to everything!

Airborne

Beer….thats the answer to everything!

Herodotus

I love beer unfortunately, it doesn’t love me! Comes to a fine pass when you are giving yourself Dutch-Ovens!

Last edited 5 days ago by Herodotus
Nate m

Americans say to never try and out drink a scot or an English man.

TrevorH

Have a load of trolls wondered onto the site? Certainly a load of rubbish being spouted. The defence budget is going up. I think all the children should be sent to bed early.

Herodotus

Am I a ‘wondering’ troll…I ‘wonder’. Definition of a Troll…..anyone’s opinion that conflicts with mine! With that I will ‘wonder’ off….’wondering’!

captain p wash

I wondered lonely as a wandering lonely thing once, then I went to bed early and now I’m sleep walking I think, who knows for sure ? Is this the real life, is this just fantasy ? Is TrevorH, TH ? or am I still dreaming ? It’s a Mystery wrapped up in an enigma with a side of Intrigue.

Herodotus

How did you know my favourite poem…’I wondered lonely as a cloud’. I follow ‘Wolverhampton Wonderers’……I asked a mate if he thought we would win the FA cup this year…he said he was wondering that too!

Alabama boy

That’s the easy bit done – now comes the hard part!

captain p wash

Easy enough with a 3D printer !

heroic

RAF Boys having a Wedgie !

Sceptical Richard

Three just isn’t a viable number.

Alabama boy

Agreed – not half the endurance capability of the E3D Fleet (7 aircraft) when new and they had a probe for UK AAR.

Daveyb

Still can’t fathom the rationale of only going with 3 airframes. Two aircraft alone cannot cover the NATO assigned areas we are tasked with, let alone being sent on a deployment such as the Gulf and the Baltic. Then when one is going through maintenance, we will be down to two for any tasking. A lot has been said recently that a UAV maybe used to work alongside the Wedgetails. With the Protector looking as a interim contender. However, the numbers don’t stack up. Performance wise, yes Protector can fly at 50,000ft with a endurance of nearly 40 hours. But,… Read more »

Johan

Cut Makes sense 3 Aircraft were already ordered with option for 2 further. Air-frame costs have plummeted, 3 replaces the 3 E3s flying. and will be more serviceable in the short time. P8s can carry the Pod that is making the E7s look like a expensive option. RAF R1 USA has just ordered 8 E11s to pick up slack in there battlefield options. we are facing a huge covid debt, and having shiny new planes/tanks/ships should be put on the back burner. lets put our own house in order before we worry about any others, took only 60 years to… Read more »

DP

It was disappointing to hear of the reduction in E-7s (5 to 3) and it was sad to see the Sentinel R1 go. Even with the loss of Sentinel though, consider where we are today from a breadth of capability perspective compared to when the E-3Ds came into service. The E-3Ds were replacing a similar (not sure of exact) number of fine but well outdated Shakletons. The RAF also operated a couple of electronic warfare Nimrods (the blunt tail variants without the MAD sensor at the rear, I recall) but, correct me if I’m wrong, we had little else?  We now… Read more »