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E7 Wedgetail order reduction

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Finty
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E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by Finty » Tue Mar 09, 2021 2:19 pm

I've seen this discussed elsewhere on the forum, this is the latest article I've seen on the matter.
The Sunday Times has reported that the UK will cut the order for E-7 Wedgetail aircraft from 5 to 3.
Wedgetail is an airborne early warning and control system, commonly known as AWACs or AEW&C. They are designed to track multiple targets at sea or in the air over a considerable area for long periods of time. This aircraft is replacing the E-3D Sentry, pictured below.

“There will also be a gap in coverage from E-3D Sentry airborne early-warning radar planes for two to three years, while replacement Wedgetails will be cut from five to three.”


This isn’t surprising and it comes comes after speculation that the order for five E-7 Wedgetail aircraft would be reduced to three to save money.

Lord Moonie, a non-affiliated member of the House of Lords, asked via a written question last year:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many E-7 Wedgetail AWACS systems they plan to procure; and what is the anticipated delivery timescale of each such system.”

Baroness Goldie, Minister of State for the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“In March 2019, HM Treasury and the Ministry of Defence approved the procurement of five E-7 Wedgetail aircraft, however, discussions regarding the final E-7 Wedgetail fleet size are on-going with a decision expected in the first half of this year. The first UK E-7 Wedgetail is expected to enter service with the Royal Air Force in 2023.”

Media reports have already suggested the Ministry of Defence plans to reduce an order for new early warning radar aircraft.

The Wedgetail aircraft programme has already been criticised by MPs unhappy about the lack of a competition to replace the RAF’s existing Sentry aircraft – known as its ‘eye in the sky‘.

The MoD has not confirmed this. But could this leave the UK with a capability gap?

In September 2020 The Times’s defence correspondent, Lucy Fisher, reported on Twitter that the MoD is considering reducing the number of aircraft to be bought from five to three. Jane’s Defence Weekly magazine confirmed with an unnamed senior MOD source that the MoD is considering a reduction to save money.

In the Defence Equipment Plan 2019, the MOD forecast the costs of the Wedgetail programme to be £2.16 bn. When asked about the difference, the Minister for Defence Procurement explained the figure of £1.51 bn relates to the value of the aircraft procurement contract, whereas the £2.16 figure includes training and future support costs.

The National Audit Office has described the defence equipment plan as “unaffordable“. The NAO also advise that the MoD has already reduced the number of Sentry aircraft from six to three in 2020 to save money.
https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/e-7-wed ... -aircraft/
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RubyRoo
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by RubyRoo » Tue Mar 09, 2021 2:32 pm

Makes sense.

First aircraft due to enter service around 2023.

There's no reason the UK can't re-evaluate this position come ~2025 in the next review and decide to purchase more if required.

EGVP
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by EGVP » Tue Mar 09, 2021 2:42 pm

I'd be interested to know if there was any requirements around the BBJs purchased for Wedgetail conversion, or whether it/they just happened to be the first ones that came on the market.

I wonder if we're just going to end up not buying the new-builds.

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TonyO
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by TonyO » Tue Mar 09, 2021 3:35 pm

EGVP wrote:
Tue Mar 09, 2021 2:42 pm
I'd be interested to know if there was any requirements around the BBJs purchased for Wedgetail conversion, or whether it/they just happened to be the first ones that came on the market.

I wonder if we're just going to end up not buying the new-builds.
The first two were always going to be second-hand aircraft in order to speed up the program.

rik1301
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by rik1301 » Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:31 pm

The first new build E-7 is loaded in the Boeing production firing order. LN in the early 9100s. There are 12 more P-8s to come before it, 2x USN, 4x RAF, 5x NOW, 1x India, so will be a while yet. I think it averages about 3 weeks between every new P-8. Unlike the P-8s, It will probably roll out as a greenie and not be painted until the wedge is installed and flight testing is mostly complete.

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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by TomG » Thu Apr 08, 2021 7:31 pm

rik1301 wrote:
Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:31 pm
Unlike the P-8s, It will probably roll out as a greenie and not be painted until the wedge is installed and flight testing is mostly complete.
My understanding is that under the original arrangement all the aircraft were to be converted to E-7s at the STS facility at Birmingham airport, I'm assuming that the new aircraft will be built as a 'straight' 737 and ferried to BHX for conversion etc.
Last edited by TomG on Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rik1301
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by rik1301 » Thu Apr 08, 2021 11:02 pm

The block number makes it a BBJ baseline, same at the Aussie and Turkish ones. I don't know whether Boeing will be doing the work themselves or an outsider. I imagine the first port of call will be at GED for auxiliary tanks fitting then we'll see where it goes from there.

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TonyO
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by TonyO » Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:39 am

All the E-7s will be converted by STS in Birmingham. The first two jets are second-hand BBJs, the third and last will be new-build.

TomG
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by TomG » Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:18 pm

TonyO wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 10:39 am
All the E-7s will be converted by STS in Birmingham. The first two jets are second-hand BBJs, the third and last will be new-build.
Wonder how long before a further "review" decides that they do need 5 after all?

scottoz8
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by scottoz8 » Mon Apr 12, 2021 12:15 am

have the MOD contracted to buy 5 ??? if so, the Americans will have penalty charges etc, I'm sure someone here will correct me if I am wrong.

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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by tommc » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:32 am

TomG wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:18 pm

Wonder how long before a further "review" decides that they do need 5 after all?
Th UK has been operating with only 3 Sentrys for a considerable length of time already.

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reaper493
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by reaper493 » Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:11 am

It's only been 2 Sentries since the end of August, 106 last flew 24/8/20 and I believe it has been withdrawn in the latest defence review.

TomG
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by TomG » Mon Apr 12, 2021 4:28 pm

tommc wrote:
Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:32 am
TomG wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:18 pm

Wonder how long before a further "review" decides that they do need 5 after all?
Th UK has been operating with only 3 Sentrys for a considerable length of time already.
Probably enforced. Why initially order 5 E-7s for the review to cut that to 3 for any other reason than economics?

quid21
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by quid21 » Tue Apr 13, 2021 12:45 pm

Crikey, three aircraft.......one goes tech, only two others, one primary and the other a backup - sounds like a quick way to retire some more modern tech.

page_verify
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by page_verify » Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:12 pm

The MoD already has a way of using very small fleets of highly valuable assets to meet some of its most critical needs (Nimrod R1, RC-135, Vanguard, Astute, etc.) so I expect the powers that be are already familiar with what they need to do to be successful.

quid21
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by quid21 » Wed Apr 14, 2021 9:30 am

page_verify wrote:
Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:12 pm
The MoD already has a way of using very small fleets of highly valuable assets to meet some of its most critical needs (Nimrod R1, RC-135, Vanguard, Astute, etc.) so I expect the powers that be are already familiar with what they need to do to be successful.
I guess there are many, many more 737s compared to 707s.

TomG
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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by TomG » Thu Apr 15, 2021 6:06 pm

page_verify wrote:
Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:12 pm
The MoD already has a way of using very small fleets of highly valuable assets to meet some of its most critical needs (Nimrod R1, RC-135, Vanguard, Astute, etc.) so I expect the powers that be are already familiar with what they need to do to be successful.
Quite an assumption and time will tell.

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Re: E7 Wedgetail order reduction

Post by Seahornet1 » Sat Apr 17, 2021 8:43 pm

page_verify wrote:
Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:12 pm
The MoD already has a way of using very small fleets of highly valuable assets to meet some of its most critical needs (Nimrod R1, RC-135, Vanguard, Astute, etc.) so I expect the powers that be are already familiar with what they need to do to be successful.
We all know what they need to do - be lucky...!

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