LONDON – A turf-cutting ceremony has taken place to mark the first significant step in preparing RAF Lossiemouth for the arrival of the UK Wedgetail AEW Mk1 (E-7) fleet.
Boeing is working together with McLaughlin & Harvey in Glasgow to prepare the ground, creating and supporting hundreds of jobs in the area, boosting the local supply chain and economy while confirming UK Government’s commitment to investing in Scotland.
“Today’s turf-cutting ceremony represents Boeing’s growing presence and investment at RAF Lossiemouth and across the Moray region.”
“We look forward to starting the work that will see the expansion of the facility to ensure the required capacity and support is in place for the E-7 Wedgetail fleet’s introduction to service”, said Ian Vett, Director of the UK E-7 Programme at Boeing.
The surveillance fleet will be located in a new facility at the Scottish base alongside the recently completed Atlantic Building, housing the UK’s fleet of nine Poseidon MRA Mk1 aircraft, which already operate from RAF Lossiemouth.
The target for Initial Operating Capability is 2024 for the Wedgetail AEW Mk1 Programme, marking a return to RAF Lossiemouth for 8 Squadron after an absence of 30 years.
The ceremony to prepare the ground was undertaken by Air Commodore Hicks, who was joined by Wing Commander Knight and Chris Laslett of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), Mr. Ian Vett from Boeing Defence UK, and Mr. Paul Griffen from infrastructure contractor McLaughlin & Harvey.
“I am thrilled to witness this major milestone for the RAF’s Wedgetail Programme with our key industry and DE&S partners.”
“The start of the technical infrastructure build represents a significant step in preparing RAF Lossiemouth for the arrival of the aircraft in 2024, which is vital to support our Wedgetail aircraft and personnel”, commented Air Commodore Hicks, Senior Responsible Owner for the Wedgetail Programme.
Boeing E-7 (AEW&C)
The Boeing 737 AEW&C is a twin-engine airborne early warning and control aircraft based on the Boeing 737 Next Generation design.
It is lighter than the 707-based Boeing E-3 Sentry and has a fixed, active, electronically scanned array radar antenna instead of a rotating one.
It’s a Northrop Grumman active electronically-scanned radar that can cover four million square kilometers over a 10-hour period. It was designed for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) under “Project Wedgetail” and designated E-7A Wedgetail.
The Wedgetail is capable of simultaneously tracking multiple airborne and maritime targets, using the information it gathers to improve situational awareness and direct assets such as fighter jets and warships.
The Wedgetail has previously been used by the Royal Australian Air Force on operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
UK’s E-7 fleet will replace the current E-3D Sentry aircraft and ensure the continued delivery of the UK’s Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capability.
The 737 AEW&C has also been selected by the Turkish Air Force (designated E-7T), the Republic of Korea Air Force, and the United Kingdom (designated Wedgetail AEW1).
In April 2022, the United States Air Force announced that the AEW&C will be replacing the E-3 beginning in 2027.