NATO has announced the selection of its next-generation command and control aircraft, moving forward with the Boeing E-7A Wedgetail to replace its existing E-3 Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) fleet, which is nearing retirement.

The production of six new E-7A aircraft is expected to begin in the coming years, with the first aircraft slated to be ready for operational duty by 2031.

This decision follows approval from a consortium of Allied nations.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg commented on the development, stating, “Surveillance and control aircraft are crucial for NATO’s collective defence and I welcome Allies’ commitment to investing in high-end capabilities.”

He also noted the benefits of pooling resources, enabling Allies to collectively purchase and operate assets that would be too costly for individual countries. Stoltenberg added, “This investment in state-of-the-art technology shows the strength of transatlantic defence cooperation as we continue to adapt to a more unstable world”.

The E-7 Wedgetail, an advanced early warning and control aircraft, is equipped with a sophisticated radar system. It is capable of detecting hostile aircraft, missiles, and ships at great distances and can direct NATO fighter jets to their targets.

The aircraft is based on a militarised version of the Boeing 737 jetliner. Countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Türkiye either currently operate the Wedgetail or plan to do so.

Since the 1980s, NATO has operated a fleet of E-3A AWACS aircraft from Geilenkirchen Air Base in Germany. These aircraft have been involved in every major NATO operation, including actions against ISIS and on NATO’s eastern flank following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The E-7 is expected to be primarily based at Geilenkirchen and may operate from several forward locations across Europe. It will be a part of NATO’s future surveillance and control project, which aims to introduce the next generation of surveillance systems by the mid-2030s.

Tom has spent the last 13 years working in the defence industry, specifically military and commercial shipbuilding. His work has taken him around Europe and the Far East, he is currently based in Scotland.
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Brom
Brom
9 days ago

We really should take up those extra two airframes we have radar for

Andrew D
Andrew D
9 days ago
Reply to  Brom

Spot on 👍

monkey spanker
monkey spanker
9 days ago
Reply to  Brom

Could sell them to nato and get the cash back into another project.
With Nato taking the aircraft there may be a small chance the U.K. orders another couple of aircraft.
Really though the best answer would be to do it now while they can be done in the U.K. with experienced workers.
Doing it much after the U.K. aircraft are finished would require start up costs again or fitting out at where ever nato do it.

Last edited 9 days ago by monkey spanker
rattman
rattman
8 days ago
Reply to  monkey spanker

They could have sold them to the US. They have stated a few times they are hoping to find the budget to get 2 more airframes to goto the 5 originally planned. Otherwise they intend to use them as spares / spare parts for the 3

Sooty
Sooty
7 days ago
Reply to  Brom

Absolutely!

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
9 days ago

Golly Gosh what a surprise, we are part of that decision process and those discussions don’t happen overnight. So what a coincidence that it was announced last Thursday that Grant Shapps is reviewing the stupid decision to not assemble 2 out of the 5 Wedgetails we need and have already bought the radar and equipment for. It’s fine for NATO to order 8 but the US has ordered 26 already and wants the 1st one in 2027. That’s quite a Challenging timescale (British understatement). https://www.defensenews.com/air/2023/03/01/us-air-force-awards-boeing-first-contract-for-fleet-of-26-e-7-aircraft/ The problem may be actually getting those planes built in a timely manner as the… Read more »

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
6 days ago
Reply to  ABCRodney

Mr Shapps seems be going all right so far?

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
6 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

All he has done so far is announce that he reviewing a previous decision that has always been subject to ongoing review.
If it happens then I suspect that will have more to do with Industrial advantage and trying to protect marginal constituencies than anything else.
Judging by his previous exploits we can look forward to a year of posturing, grand sounding rhetoric, occasional verbal gaffs and absolutely nothing of any substance what-so ever.

David Barry
David Barry
9 days ago

Oi, NATO, I’ve got two radar systems on the quiet to off load, never bin used, know what I mean, yours for a fiver.

taffybadger
taffybadger
7 days ago
Reply to  David Barry

you mean a ‘ lady godiva ‘

Michael S.
Michael S.
9 days ago

I will miss the un-hush-kitted TF33s but I dont live in Geilenkirchen and this was long overdue.

Coll
Coll
9 days ago

It looks like the Germans could be buying the P-8 Poseidon. There must be issues with the German-Franco MAWS. I’m not sure if this is a stopgap. But this, along with MGCS, isn’t looking great.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
8 days ago
Reply to  Coll

Coll, Germany ordered additional 3 P8s last week or week before adding to their 5 earlier, so 8. If the production run continues and prices stabilise even reduce then maybe there’s a chance the UK could be tempted to order more E7 and P8’s?

Last edited 8 days ago by Quentin D63
Coll
Coll
8 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Ah ok. I didn’t realise it was in addition to an already existing order. Thanks.

klonkie
klonkie
7 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Morning Mate. Haven’t the RAAF got a couple more on order, total 14?

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
6 days ago
Reply to  klonkie

Afternoon from Aus. I think you’re right but can’t find info on this. At least theres enough P8s combined for both Aus and NZ and maybe even an E7 or two.. Lol 😁

klonkie
klonkie
6 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

good one Mate!

DJ
DJ
4 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Quentin

Its on Boeing Australia website. Two more ordered Dec 2020.

https://www.boeing.com.au/products-services/Defense-Space-Security/poseidon.page

Tullzter
Tullzter
8 days ago
Reply to  Coll

The MAWS program has been abandoned in 2021

Coll
Coll
8 days ago
Reply to  Tullzter

It isn’t looking good for Franco-German cooperation.

David Barry
David Barry
7 days ago
Reply to  Coll

They’ve got history on that…
Taxi!

Coll
Coll
6 days ago
Reply to  David Barry

haha

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
4 days ago

Its surely time to end the nonsense of having purchased the hardware/ radar sets for Wedgetails whilst not purchasing the actual airframes. Just madness. Put the order back upto 5 at least, if not actually 7. Whilst HMG are at it they can also order a follow on batch of at least 6 more Poseidon MPA.

lonpfrb
lonpfrb
8 minutes ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

Boeing 737-800, the foundation for E7 and P8, pre-date the 737-Max which is struggling to get FAA Certified again. So there is some supply of 737-800 now but there likely will be more once 737-Max fleets are back in use. Airlines are desperate to get their 737-Max back in the air, earning their keep..

Armchair Admiral
Armchair Admiral
3 days ago

As an aside, naval review or someone is running a piece stating stingray is to added to the P8’s…Good move. Just need a nsm (jasm is it) buy now…