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Air Platforms

IAI eyes UK AEW&C opportunity

20 September 2018
IAI sees its G550 CAEW aircraft as a cheaper yet capable replacement for the United Kingdom’s current E-3D Sentry AEW1. Source: IAI

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has expressed hope that the United Kingdom will launch an open tender for a new airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft for the Royal Air Force (RAF), Jane’s was told on 18 September.

IAI’s subsidiary, Elta Systems, has been holding a preliminary dialogue with a number of UK defence companies that could act as local partners in any potential future contract, a senior Elta executive said.

Elta Systems supplied two Gulfstream 550 Conformal Airborne Early Warning (G550 CAEW) aircraft to Italy in 2016, which the company believes puts it in a strong position for any potential UK tender. Prior to the Italian deliveries, Elta has also provided G550 CAEW platforms to Israel and Singapore.

Avishai Izhakian, deputy general manager of the Airborne Systems and Radar Division at Elta, said his company would be able to “work with a local British partner” to adapt solutions for the RAF’s particular needs. “We have functioning, operational systems in Israel and Italy that are proven,” Izhakian said. At the start of the last decade, he noted, the IAF moved away from Boeing 707-based platforms (of the type in use by the RAF with the E-3D Sentry AEW1) to the G550.

“The IAF has set very high demands for this plane, in terms of [detection] ranges, and what targets it can see. What has been developed for it, and other clients, is a system that is uncompromising. It’s true that the platform is relatively modest, but there has been no compromise in terms of capabilities,” Izhakian said, adding, “Therefore, we can replace older aircraft with a much smaller, much cheaper package.”

The RAF is due to decide in the coming months whether it will upgrade its existing seven Sentry platforms (of which six are serviceable) or replace them.

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