Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has signed a $1.98Bn (£1.51Bn) deal to purchase five E-7 Wedgetail aircraft. The E-7 fleet will replace the current E-3D Sentry aircraft and ensure the continued delivery of the UK’s Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capability.
Speaking following the announcement, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, said:
“Today’s announcement about the procurement of five E-7 ‘Wedgetail’ Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft is excellent news for both the RAF and wider Defence. This world-class capability, already proven with our Royal Australian Air Force partners, will significantly enhance our ability to deliver decisive airborne command and control and builds on the reputation of our E-3D Sentry Force.
“Along with Defence’s investment in other cutting-edge aircraft, E-7 will form a core element of the Next Generation Air Force, able to overcome both current and future complex threats.”
The E-7 is based on a standard Boeing 737 airliner modified to carry a sophisticated Northrop Grumman active electronically-scanned radar. This can cover four million square kilometres over a 10-hour period.