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USAF issues AWACS replacement RFI

The US Air Force has issued its RFI to replace the E-3G AWACS aircraft. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The US Air Force (USAF) has issued a request for information (RFI) to replace its ageing fleet of Boeing E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, with the goal of fielding prototype aircraft by 2028.

Released on 8 February, the RFI is geared at replacing the USAF's fleet of 31 E-3G AWACS with a new solution entirely, previously identified by the service as being the Boeing E-7A Wedgetail.

“This RFI is issued to identify industry partners to replace the US E-3G AWACS aircraft. The programme requires delivery of at least two production representative prototype aircraft, including ground support and training systems, within five years starting in FY 23 (expected contract award),” the RFI said.

The ‘US E-3G AWACS Replacement' RFI was issued about four months after the USAF launched its AWACS replacement effort with the ‘E-3 Replacement Aircraft Studies & Analyses' published in late October 2021. In it, the service said it was to sole-source Boeing to perform studies, analyses, and activities required to ascertain the E-7A baseline configuration, and to determine what additional work the US government might need to accomplish to meet the USAF configuration standards and mandates.

Based on the 707 airframe, the E-3 platform has been in service for nearly 45 years. With allied countries such as Australia, South Korea, and Turkey already fielding the E-7A, and with the United Kingdom having recently retired its E-3D AEW1 platforms in favour of the E-7A, and NATO examining its future options, senior USAF leaders have been voicing their preference for the E-7A for some months now.

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