Based on market research, the Department of the Air Force has decided to replace a portion of the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet with the E-7 Wedgetail, which is produced by The Boeing Company.
According to an Air Force news release, the Boeing E-7 is the only platform capable of meeting the requirements for the Defense Department’s tactical battle management, command and control and moving target indication capabilities within the timeframe needed to replace the aging E-3.
A contract award is planned in fiscal year 2023.
The FY23 President’s Budget request includes $227 million in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds starting in FY23. These funds support the acquisition of a rapid prototype aircraft planned to deliver in FY27.
The notional schedule plans for a second rapid prototype aircraft funded in FY24, and a production decision in FY25 to continue fielding aircraft.
The FY23 PB proposes a partial divestment of the E-3 AWACS fleet, 15 of 31 aircraft, and redirects funding to procure and field its replacement.
The E-7 system was developed by Australia for the Australian Defence Forces. The unbreakable US and Australia alliance and interoperability amongst the armed services enabled the Department of the Air Force to leverage this considerable investment and exceptional capability.
The E-7 aircraft are large enough to add potential new capabilities, such as operating drones for expanded surveillance, in coming years.
The E-7 (or Boeing 737 AEW&C) is based on a Boeing 737-700, with the addition of an advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar, and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles which can track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.
It is a highly advanced aircraft, providing an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C)platform that can gather information from a wide variety of sources, analyse it, and distribute it to other assets.
The Boeing 737 AEW&C can:
Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Michael Battles / U.S. Air Force
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