NATO may replace its E-3 Sentry aircraft with new E-7 Wedgetail aircraft
Michael Gschossmann of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation agency that manages the AWACS fleet, told Reuters here that expected to finalize by December a $750 million contract with Boeing to extend the life of the E-3 aircraft through to 2035.
Gschossmann also said it was critical to decide quickly how to replace the 1979/1980-era aircraft or NATO would need to take costly steps to keep them flying even longer.
The E-7 is based on the Boeing 737-700 with the addition of an advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array radar.
Gschossmann told Reuters NATO could follow the lead of member states Britain and Turkey in purchasing the E-7. Those aircraft, he said, were large enough to add potential new capabilities, such as operating drones for expanded surveillance, in coming years.
“Why don’t we bet on the proven technology that we already have in the E-7 and provide NATO with a certain number of those aircraft? That would give us a basic capability that could be expanded in the future,” he said.