UK begins Wedgetail conversions

by Gareth Jennings

Work has begun in the UK to convert five Boeing 737 airliners into E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning Mk 1 (AEW1) platforms for the Royal Air Force (RAF).

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.  (Crown Copyright)

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. (Crown Copyright)

Boeing UK announced on 2 November that the first fuselage sections for the first two aircraft to be modified had been delivered to STS Aviation Services in Birmingham.

“Section 46 is the part of the fuselage where the aircraft’s [Northrop Grumman] multirole electronically scanned array (MESA) radar will be installed,” Boeing UK said, adding that the first Section 46 will begin preparation for inclusion into a 737 Next Generation [NG] airliner later this month.

“The arrival of the first fuselage sections at STS Aviation in Birmingham is a significant milestone for the E-7 Wedgetail Programme, and an exciting opportunity for the UK as we begin the modification of these aircraft into a world-class airborne command and control capability,” Air Commodore Richard Barrow, Ministry of Defence (MoD) Senior Responsible Owner for the E-7 Wedgetail Programme was quoted as saying.

As noted by Boeing UK, parts and tooling will continue to arrive weekly to the Birmingham hangar in preparation for work on the first two aircraft in January 2021. “Staffing is ramping up, with 60 hired by STS Aviation already and more than half of the Boeing staff are on site now. The programme also successfully completed two critical reviews with the MoD last week,” the company said.

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Work has begun in the UK to convert five Boeing 737 airliners into E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warn...

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