CAEW is an off-the-shelf AEW&C aircraft system, installed on the Gulfstream G550 platform.

The aircraft is an airborne early warning and control system developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Elta Electronics Industries of Israel.

Its primary objective is to provide intelligence to maintain air superiority and conduct surveillance. The system is currently in-service with Israel and Singapore, and in the future Italy and the United States.

CAEW is equipped with current generation AESA radar using Gallium Nitrade technology and state of the art ESM/ELINT systems, however little technical detail exists in the public domain on these for obvious reasons. IAI say that CAEW is already fully interoperable with NATO Communications, Data Link and IFF Standards say IAI.

According to the company:

“ELTA is well positioned to provide the UK with a mature, off-the-shelf NATO compliant AEW&C solution. As is common practice with in-country Industrial-Participation, ELTA plans to work with local integrators and suppliers to ensure the success of the program and shorten the delivery schedule.

Transfer of technology and know-how to UK industry will generate opportunities and employment for the UK market thus boosting prosperity.”

Some plus points, according to the company:

• Operates at 41,000 ft, above commercial air traffic, providing improved Intelligence &
Communications:
· 10 Minutes from take-off: All systems are operational
· 20 Minutes from take-off: Reaches 41,000 ft
• More on-station time than similar available AWACS solutions – over 10 hours
• Operates from short narrow airfields for flexible mission planning and ease of
deployment worldwide
• Ground Cycle/Turnaround time of less than one hour
• Two G550 CAEW can provide continuous 24/7 surveillance

Another option reportedly being considered is the E-7 Wedgetail, an Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft with maritime search capabilities, the ability to control unmanned aircraft and intelligence gathering capabilities.

The E-7A Wedgetail is based on a Boeing 737-700, with the addition of an advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar and 10 mission crew console. They can cover four million square kilometres during a single 10 hour mission according to the Royal Australian Air Force.

We recently reported that options for the future delivery of the UK’s Airborne Warning and Control capability are being explored, with the focus now on replacing the E-3D Sentry fleet. We understand that upgrades however are reportedly considered to be expensive. According to Janes here, maintenance is becoming increasingly costly and replacing them instead might be the most cost-effective option.

Some industry commentators are also arguing for a new aircraft type altogether. The large sums of money allocated to upgrading the E-3D fleet should be used to purchase a more advanced off-the-shelf aircraft, a defence analyst has argued.

Justin Bronk, Research Fellow, Airpower and Technology, outlines options for replacing the E-3 fleet in his paper ‘The Future of Air C2 and AEW: E-3 Sentry, Threat Technologies and Future Replacement Options’:

“The RAF’s E-3Ds need a £2-billion CSP both to bring them to rough parity with current US and French standards by the mid-2020s and to stretch the fleet out to 2035 in the process. However, the E-3, even in modernised form, is no longer a cutting-edge ABM&S system in a world where proliferating long-range missile systems and emerging non-Western low-observable fighters can force it to stay hundreds of kilometres from contested airspace, placing a higher premium on BLOS communications capacity rather than onboard sensors.

Even when it is able to operate closer to the battlespace, the AN/APY-1/2 mechanically scanned radar array common to all E-3s has significant inherent limitations in terms of its ability to detect low-observable, very slow moving and hypersonic threats, unlike more modern AESA-equipped AWACS types already in service with the US Navy and various air forces around the world. An AESA-equipped ABM&S platform with improved communications node capabilities, based on a commercial-derivative airframe, seems a logical alternative option which could provide the RAF with a more capable and efficient alternative to extending the life of the E-3D over the next 20 years.”

What we don’t know however is how closely any of the aircraft match what the Royal Air Force want from an E-3D Sentry replacement but the degree of commonality Wedgetail has with the Posiedon Maritime Patrol Aircraft being purchased for the RAF can’t be a bad thing, especially when Wedgetail also has an enhanced maritime search capability which may be useful in augmenting the relatively few P-8s being purchased.

48 COMMENTS

  1. Morning
    It’s too small and doesn’t offer the commonality of frame type, engine type etc. that the RAF should be looking for when they replace the capability – it also makes the supply chain less secure and more expensive in the long term, upgrades become costly. Small unique fleets are expensive to maintain regardless of how good they are.

    • There is not a huge amount of commonality between the Poseidon and Wedge-tail. They share the same engines which is good and they are likely to be simpler for pilots to qualify on but despite looking similar I am pretty sure the Airframes differ. However the Gulfstream and the Sentinal also share the same engines.

      • (Chris H) Lee1 – I think the E-7 is based on the 737-700ER and the Poseidon P-8 is based on the 737-800ERX. Both are basically 737NG aircraft so there is a large amount of commonality. And especially useful for pilot certification and conversion as you say

        • I think you are right. However the details are a little sketchy. The E-7 is apparently similar to the 737-700ER but is not the same aircraft. The P-8 is indeed a 737-800ERX. The 737-700ER is a 737-700 fuselage mated to 800-ERX wings. No idea if the E-7 is the same or not. Certainly the wings look a little different but I am not sure if that is just to do with the sensors on the E-7 wing tips.

  2. E7, still the only game in town and its telling that despite moaning about this contract going out to Boeing no UK company is bidding anyway. IAI, Saab and Airbus.

    Its worth noting as well that if we have E7 capability it will very much give us a capability the cousins dont have and very much want.

    No one will care if we have CAEW or the system from Saab.

    Primarily because there is almost no money to be made in building such platforms in small batches.

  3. Looks like vendors are trying to get some traction with the Defence Select Committee which is up in arms over the MoD selecting the E-7 Wedgetail without an open competition. Wedgetail is ideal for the RAF and would really complement the Poseidon, plus improving collaboration with the RAAF. Will the Minister manage to force this through without a competition?

    • Morning
      Committee are there to make recommendations and cannot force the hand of the Minister.
      It is a challenge though getting Wedgetail out the door, single sourcing from Boeing again, all because the U.K. wouldn’t invest in developing its own platform 10 years ago when development would have need to have started to hit an ISD of about 2021.
      The ISTAR capability is one of the unique things the U.K. brings, if it is to stay world class action will be needed in the short term and unfortunately Wedgetail is the only platform that will meet the KUR of the customer, it’s those KUR that are important – that’s what will drive the numbers of frames people will get worried about.
      Always remember to keep one aircraft flying you need 5 (5 Sentinel, 5 RNorAF P-8 etc).

  4. If one makes a judgment simply by how it looks, this wins hands down compared to the alternatives. One reassurance I have, it’s been developed by the Israeli’s!

  5. I doubt IAI’s shareholders would be happy if the company did not at least tender a proposal. They are not likely to win but if there is a potential for a deal I think it incumbent on the company to make an offer.

  6. (Chris H) – Simply no! While Israel continues to breach UN Security Council Resolutions and their settlers continue to illegally take over villages and land on the West Bank we must keep our distance. We owe them nothing and we can point to many cases where they indirectly cause us harm. And in any case they are joined at the hip to the USA while dictating US Foreign policy. Its quite extraordinary that a country that only exists because of US aid, loans and military funding dictates to those who give that aid. Tail / Dog Syndrome.

    If we cannot develop our own successor to Sentry (doubtful given the few we need) then we should make a commitment to our Commonwealth friends as that is where our military future lies. By which I mean Wedgetail. Our future is not in Europe (their choice), not in NATO (which is effectively dead after Brexit) and we already have a relationship that is too reliant on US Incorporated. therefore we must explore and develop new relationships with Australia and Canada and others.

    • Hello Chris, Do you think that NATO will cease after Brexit ? I’ve not really read anything along those lines, Can you shed some light on It. Thanks.

      • There was a NATO before there was an EU, and before the UK joined it. There will be a NATO after Brexit. End of story.

    • That is one of the most populist comments I’ve ever heard on Defence Journal. Ironically, your first paragraph is reminiscent of Appalachian backwoods American cracker. Got a problem? Heck, blame the Jews. Such drivel.

      Your second paragraph has some merit but then down shifts straight to all or nothing thinking. Brexit kills NATO, we have no future in Europe type situation. Want WWIII in your backyard? Then keep thinking and acting that way. The U.S. will probably have a hard fall from empire. Building U.K. ships in the U.K. just makes sense for the most part. Partnering with the common wealth can also help soften the blow of collapsing empire.

      But make no mistake the west is tied together and there will be pain when it falls apart. The best the non-U.S. west can do is spread it’s suppliers out just as Australia is doing.

    • Wedgetail is a US aircraft… There is no indication so far that they will be built in Australia.

      And what on earth are you on about regarding NATO? I voted to remain but comments like that are simply idiotic! NATO is nothing to do with our membership of the EU!

      • (Chris H) Bryan – Ah look someone who uses the word ‘populist’ as an insult and thinks its clever and then I got as far as ‘blame the Jews’ and realised the irony of you calling me out as some “Appalachian backwoods American” …. You just lost the argument with personal abuse.

        I criticised Israel and its military. I never ONCE mentioned Jews or their religion. So go shove your inferred antisemitism. Try this Sweecheeks: I have Jewish blood, part of my family is Jewish and NONE like Israel’s actions. It was an opinion based on my historical research and study. I was born the year before Israel was created (by ethnic cleansing) and lost a (Jewish) cousin in the British Army I never knew in the King David Hotel bombing but this is not personal. Its my judgment – an opinion and I have that right. Now you want an argument on the events of 1948 bring it on but NEVER try and play the antisemitic card with me Old Son.

        The EU is not Europe – your first typical Remainer myth. The EU has in no way averted WWIII (your second remainer myth) while NATO most certainly has. Indeed the total lack of defence spending WITHIN the EU (apart from the UK) has made WWIII far more likely given Putin’s ability to spot weakness. The other 27 countries of the EU have freeloaded their security off the UK and to a far greater extent off the USA. I never said ‘Brexit kills NATO’ did I? Stop misrepresenting. What I was saying is after we leave the EU we have a choice – remain in NATO and have the EU countries continue to freeload or scrap NATO. Two separate and different events. NATO was created to protect the continent of Europe while the EU exists to create an EU sovereign state so there is a growing fundamental conflict right there. So let THEM fund their own defence. Why should we, given how they are treating us because of our rightful wish to leave the EU? And why should the USA or Canada? The EU itself has changed the geopolitical dynamics and has done so out of choice.

        But we agree that ‘the West’ is tied together. But its bound by the historical ties of history and by the Anglosphere and nothing to do with the EU. We are a major part of ‘5 Eyes’ and we should use that, and the Commonwealth, as a basis for future military treaties. NATO will die as soon as the Yanks decide it and the EU will be an irrelevance in that decision. Our future lies elsewhere.

        • Your logic and reasoning is all over the place. No one is following you because you are not making sense.

          U.N. Lots of people like to tout the U.N. When it suits them. Such as with Israel. When the U.N. starts to blather on about the Rock and U.K. trying to change it’s treaty with Spain it’s all about history, context and such. You can’t have one without the other mate. At least you can’t have it without folks calling you on it.

          You in the same comment distance yourself from the U.S. and NATO while touting 5 eyes. They would be one and the same.

          Now I think we might agree that working with Australia and such is a good idea. I suggested that Australia is a good model as they are developing their defence on a well rounded approach with a capacity that their budget can afford. That is a good hedge against a long term decline of European, U.K. or U.S. defence companies.

          • (Chris H) Bryan – an apology for your antisemitic insult would have been nice but no… So where is my logic ‘all over the place? And I don’t care if people follow me or not. I voice my opinions based on my background, experiences and studies. if people agree fine. if not fine as well and I will enjoy the debate. But I get really pissed off when people like you make it personal.

            If you decry the UN then there is no point in discussing Israel. After all it was the UN that recognised the State in 1948. Now who can’t have it both ways Bryan?

            And then you totally misrepresent me. WHERE exactly, and do please quote me, did I ever ‘distance’ myself from the USA in my vision for where we should align ourselves militarily post Brexit? Try and read what is written in other related Threads and I in fact said “we should make a bilateral defence treaty with the USA and then ….”. That does not mean we should not establish new military, commercial and trading relationships with other countries to break the reliance on US Incorporated.

            I said ‘The West’ is bound by historical ties – that includes the USA. I said ‘5 Eyes’ – that includes the USA. I said the Anglosphere – that includes the USA. I also mentioned the Commonwealth and no the USA is not included in that but as one part of a wider comment its hardly ‘distancing’.

          • Chris: No apology needed to be given. You shifted your logic in the exact same way southern hillbillies do when I call them on their wacky logic.
            You talk about distancing from USA then talk about 5 eyes, Wedgetail etc. All USA. It’s like you’re arguing with yourself right in your own comment. Sort of bizarre actually.

            As others have pointed out to you, the Wedgetail is a U.S. aircraft. you are not distancing from the U.S. for the Commonwealth. And of course this must vex you mightily because as you suggest, “U.S.A. incorporated” is run by Israel and “And in any case they are joined at the hip to the USA while dictating US Foreign policy.”

            BTW: Chris you do know that Israel is run by Jews, right? So I didn’t make a logic leap. You did and continue to.

      • (Chris H) Lee1 – Forgive me if I copy part of my reply to Bryan above as it answers your point that shows you misunderstood my own point about NATO in a post Brexit world:
        “The other 27 countries of the EU have freeloaded their security off the UK and to a far greater extent off the USA. I never said ‘Brexit kills NATO’ did I? […] What I was saying is after we leave the EU we have a choice – remain in NATO and have the EU countries continue to freeload or scrap NATO. Two separate and different events. NATO was created to protect the continent of Europe while the EU exists to create an EU sovereign state so there is a growing fundamental conflict right there. So let THEM fund their own defence.”

        • We do not fund other countries NATO assets. We do not buy additional assets purely for use by NATO. We have military assets that are ours to do with what we like and we allow these to carry out NATO missions but they can be recalled at any time.

          You said “NATO (which is effectively dead after Brexit)” which directly implies that you think Brexit is somehow linked to the fall of NATO. That is moronic and we will continue to be part of NATO after Brexit and NATO itself will still be relevant after Brexit. In fact if some are to be believed that some of the EU money we currently spend will be spent on extra defence in the future then we will actually have more assets to mobilise for NATO.

          Other countries do indeed need to up their game on defence (For their own good) but that is not linked to Brexit in any way.

          • (Chris H) Lee1 – I am sorry you consider me to be a moron. I will note that while reading anything you have to write.

            Shame you have still failed to read and understand my basic point. So I will try one more time. The EU is creating itself into a sovereign state that competes with the USA. So why on earth should the USA put its own blood and treasure at the disposal of the EU for its defence. And likewise on a smaller scale why should we? If the EU 27 had funded their own defence as they should have then I might have a different view but the facts are what they are. Post Brexit when 80% of NATO funding (and yes I know we don’t pay as such and place assets at NATO’s disposal) is from OUTSIDE the EU where is the supportive argument for NATO to defend Europe – for which read ‘The EU’? Post Brexit the UK, USA and Canada are outside the EU and will contribute some 4 times what EU countries will

          • And again I will say that we are not spending extra money to protect the EU. If it does turn into a sovereign state (And I very much doubt that will happen) it will still be a allied neighbour that we will need to work with and it will still be a place that if taken over by Russia would be a direct threat to the US, UK etc. NATO exists as collective of like minded countries to organise responses to aggression from not so well meaning countries. That would not change if the EU suddenly became a country. It already directly competes with the US so what is your point?

            Canada also does not meet the NATO 2% Requirement… Shall we ditch them too?

            It is not about defending the EU it is about defending our interests of which the EU happens to be one…

          • @Chris

            Again we do not spend extra to defend NATO!

            If the EU becomes a sovereign state (unlikely) then it will still be an allied neighbour and it will still be territory that we would not want taken over by Russia etc. So it is still in our interests to help defend it. There are countries in the EU that meet the 2% target. The EU is not Europe.

            The USA will want to help defend Europe for the very same reason that it has done so for so long. It is in its interests as Europe provides a buffer zone of allies which means it keeps Russia at arms length to the east.

            Canada does not meet the 2% requirement so why do you have one rule for them and one rule for the EU?

        • I’m with Chris. Let’s lift the tone, chaps, and cut out personal attacks. There’s too much at stake, and we need cool logic and less bile and definitely less obfuscation. I endorse a strategic move to come closer to the ANZAC crew. Worked well in two world wars. And the Europeans shirk their responsibilities, in particular that of providing for the defence of their own people.

    • Can we please leave the “Jew Thing” out of this! Please?

      Israeli Tech is world leading and when it comes to our defence, we must have the best!
      Coming out of the EU, we will be trading more with Israel, which is a positive move for both “Sovereign Democratic Nations”.

      We should also be looking at future collaborations in military R&D and joint weapons development.

      With an uncertain relationship/future regarding The EU and NATO.
      Britain, USA, Australia, Canada, Israel…must pull together…

      As sure as we must never tire of building diplomatic and cultural bridges with our potential enemies, China, Russia, Iran…neither should we get caught out over defence complacency?

  7. Rather than wasting effort writing lengthy posts for others of a like mind to read, posts which are largely ineffective and impotent, would one not be better employed writing to the appropriate politicians and departments? Any less is alike a WI coffee morning.

    • Perhaps because writing to an MP is largely ineffective?

      And this is ‘coffee morning’ for individuals who are interest in defense.

      • Not sure how long the Coffee Morning Lasts on here, judging by some of Late Night Consumption antics but It’s been a real Eye Opener. (Is there any Coffee Cake left, I love a bit of Coffee Cake).

    • Exactly. Remember, this little chat isn’t exactly populated by hard chargers with any influence in defence but those who love a moan and a whinge about a world they’ve never worked in operationally.
      Some great points are made daily however but nobody is going to sit up and take notice that Dave from Croydon who was once a sea cadet thinks we need an extra carrier

      • @Rgr. That posting of yours is hilarious. It causes me much hilarity to read the massive postings and lists of things that will never be written by some on this site. I do wonder that if some of these website warriors would be better placed convincing those in power of the need for more ships, planes, missiles, tanks and so on and how many of them would be prepared to pay out taxes for such things. Otherwise all the rants in the world on this site are just impotent and pie in the sky.

        • “Pie In the Sky”, Great, We’ve gone from Coffee Morning and a nice cake, to Lunchtime and a Pie. What’s for Tea ?

      • (Chris H) Rgr – Forgive me but many of us HAVE served and some have gone to war. So maybe back off the generalisations, argue the specifics and not attack the people? This is a discussion forum and people voice opinions. Its what we do.

        And my recollection was that it is a basic core requirement for Salts, Crabs and Pongos to moan and whinge at every opportunity … And do it with great humour.

        • Hello Chris, Where did you serve and Which war were you In ? You sound slightly Familiar, Were you on Hermes In 82 ?

          • (Chris H) Captain – I served from 1970 to 1985 and was MD’d out. Beyond saying that I hope I don’t seem rude but I don’t wish to give personal details out on the old t’internet. You may of course be right …

  8. Oh Chris, Thanks mate, I thought I’d Broken something on here for a bit ! You sounded like someone I knew back then just by the way you were Replying on here, It’s such a small World, You never know who You’ll come across next. I’d Like to think that You were the Chris Who I served under all those Years ago but I guess it’ll all be a Secret now, Anyway Mate, How’s Civvy life Treating you ?

    • (Chris H) Captain – It was a long haul at first but some brilliant and pisstaking mates helped. And I guess after 30 + years and I am still vertical I guess it treated me OK. As the song says:
      “Complaints? I have a few. But then again too few to mention”

      Some events still get in the head and it hurts. But others had far worse. Bless ’em all.

  9. “Pongos to moan and whinge at every opportunity”

    Damn right! I know sweet FA about pointy flying things with radar and flashy bits but meet me in the NAAFI in a bad mood then standby for a whinge of epic proportions. Please pick one or more of the following topics.

    * The store man wearing AKUs while I can’t get any.
    * VERTIS is crap
    * JAMES training is worse than a kick in the dick.
    * Why aren’t I getting paid LSA?
    * How am I on duty again?
    *How did that lad pass out of basic training?
    The list just goes on.

    BV

  10. The Israeli aircraft is technologically advanced, but look at its base airframe. A GS 550. It lacks the range/payload of the Wedgetail. Great for Israel, not for the UK with world-wide interests.

    • So why doesn’t the RAF look at a combination of both examples – Long range and Short range ISTAR aircraft, so why not support all our allies and look at both options and if required buy both. – BTW guys why is Japan the only country that uses an E767 – is or is it not worth considering that option, or shout we look at a Voyager ISTAR aircraft?

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