The UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF’s) procurement of Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft is potentially being cut from five aircraft to three.
Details of the discussions about reducing the current order for five aircraft to three or four airframes first emerged on the social media account of a correspondent of
on 22nd September. A senior UK Ministry of Defence source confirmed some of the details of its discussions with the prime contractor, Boeing UK.
The RAF may now only receive three E-7A Wedgetail aircraft, instead of the five originally planned. (Crown Copyright)
“We entered into negotiations with Boeing in the summer to secure better value for money for the E-7 programme,” said the source on 22nd September. “One option being considered is to reduce the contract with Boeing from five to three E-7 Wedgetails. This would save hundreds of millions over the next 10 years, while still maintaining hundreds of highly-skilled jobs.”
“This [UK] Government will not shy away from difficult decisions and will always seek to deliver maximum value for money in its procurement programmes,” said the source. “The Defence Secretary [Ben Wallace] cancelled the Fleet Solid Support ship competition last November because it was clear a value for money solution could not be found”.
The source said the ministry, “is absolutely still committed to this capability, which will provide the UK with AEW&C system and allow us to rapidly identify threats and command and control the battlespace from the air.”
“Although discussions are ongoing, we still anticipate the first E-7 will be in service in 2023,” said the source. “The [ministry] is reviewing a range of capabilities that may need to be ‘sun-setted’ in order to make way for new ‘sun-rise’ capabilities.”