Boeing has expanded its industry team for the UK’s E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning Mk1 (AEW1) procurement programme, with a national conversion supplier and a defensive-aids system (DAS) provider both being announced on 20 May.
An artist’s impression of how the E-7 AEW&C aircraft will appear in UK service. The RAF is acquiring five such aircraft to replace its current E-3D Sentry platforms.
The prime contractor for the Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) procurement of five Wedgetail AEW1 aircraft said that it has now signed up STS Aviation Services and Leonardo as the latest companies to be involved in the UK programme.
STS Aviation Services will be responsible for converting ‘green’ 737 Next-Generation (NG) airliners into Wedgetails at its site in Birmingham (this work had previously been earmarked for Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group before the switch for unspecified reasons). Leonardo will be responsible for delivering the aircraft’s DAS, part of which it will subcontract to Thales UK for its Elix-IR threat warning system and Vicon XF ‘intelligent’ countermeasures dispensing system.
For STS Aviation Services, the announcement will create about 90 high-skilled jobs at the site formerly operated by Monarch Aircraft Engineering at Birmingham Airport. A further 30 Boeing UK positions will also be created for this particular aspect of the programme, in addition to the 50 already working on the project.