E7 Wedgetail 220319 CREDIT MOD.jpg

UK Signs Multi-Billion-Pound Deal For Early Warning Radar Aircraft

E7 Wedgetail 220319 CREDIT MOD.jpg

The E-7 Wedgetail is already used by Australia (Picture: MOD).

The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has signed a $1.98bn (£1.5bn) deal to purchase five E-7 aircraft.

The E-7 fleet will replace the current Sentry aircraft and ensure the continued delivery of the UK’s Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capability.

The aircraft are expected to begin service with the RAF in the 2020s.

The ambition is for the new fleet to be able to track multiple airborne and maritime targets at the same time.

"The E-7 provides a technological edge in an increasingly complex battlespace," Gavin Williamson said.

Information gathered by the aircraft will then provide situational awareness and direct other assets such as fighter jets and warships.

E-7A Wedgetail from Royal Australian Air Force
The E-7 can carry 12 crew members, including two pilots (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Named 'Wedgetail' by the Australian Department for Defence, the E-7 aircraft can fly for long periods of time and manage the battlespace from the sky.

"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," said Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Hillier.

"E-7 will form a core element of the Next Generation Air Force, able to overcome both current and future complex threats."

Royal Australian Air Force E-7A taxiing at Nellis Air Force base
The aircraft has a cruise speed of 530 mph (Picture: US Department of Defense).

The E-7 is an aircraft that is currently in service with the Royal Australian Air Force and has been used on operations in the battle against so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The aircraft is based on a standard Boeing 737 NG airliner modified to carry a Northrop Grumman active electronically-scanned radar.

Modification of the aircraft will be carried out in the UK.

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