It has been reported that the U.S. Air Force is expected to purchase the E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft at some point next year.
“I’m very confident that the Air Force is choosing the E-7 to replace its E-3 fleet,” Mike Manazir, Boeing’s vice president for defence business development, was quoted by Valerie Insinna during a news conference ahead of the Dubai Airshow.
“I believe they’ll be announcing sometime in 2022 that they’re going to move forward on the E-7.”
Boeing, the manufacturers, say that the E-7 Wedgetail is one of the world’s most advanced, capable and reliable Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) platforms, “having proven itself in operations around the world”.
The aircraft is designed to track multiple airborne and maritime targets simultaneously. It can provide situational awareness and direct other assets such as fighter jets and warships.
Australia, South Korea and Turkey already operate the aircraft. The Uk has ordered some. The UK’s E-7 Wedgetail aircraft (the order has been cut from five to three) is expected to be in service with the Royal Air Force in 2023.
UK E-7 timeline:
- March 2019: UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) announced its selection of the Boeing E-7 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft for the RAF.
- Early 2020: The first two 737 NG aircraft set to become RAF Wedgetails start the early stages of conversion in the United States.
- May 2020: STS Aviation Services in Birmingham named as key Wedgetail supplier to carry out the modification work, creating more than 100 highly skilled jobs: 90 with STS and 30 more with Boeing.
- May 2020: Leonardo and Thales UK will develop the aircraft’s defensive aids system, adding a UK designed and built technology to the fleet.
- November 2020: Fuselage sections for first RAF E-7 Wedgetail aircraft arrive at conversion site in Birmingham.
- January 2021: The first aircraft to become a Wedgetail lands at Birmingham Airport.
- September 2021: The second aircraft to become a Wedgetail lands at Birmingham Airport. It joins the first aircraft to undergo conversion with Boeing’s supply chain partner STS Aviation.