Speaking to MONS during Singapore Airshow, sources close to Boeing disclosed that the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has held “discussions” with the manufacturer regarding the possible acquisition of Boeing’s 737 AEW&C Airborne Early Warning (AEW) platform as a replacement for the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) fleet of six E-3D SENTRY AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft.

Reports in 2017 spoke of the UK MoD intending to keep the E-3D fleet flying until 2035, although the author understands that at least one of the aircraft is in long-term storage and that the RAF maintains a maximum of two airworthy airframes at any one time. The UK MOD has embarked upon a so-called Capability Sustainment Programme which could be worth up to $2.7 billion to extend the life of these aircraft to 2035.

It is unclear whether the MoD’s discussions have focused on cancelling or curtailing the CSP, and instead procuring the B-737 AEW&C, or procuring the latter aircraft once the upgraded E-3D fleet leaves service. Moreover, it is not thought that the MoD has commenced discussions with Saab which produces the GlobalEye AEW platform or Israel Aerospace Industries, which provides the EL/W-2085 Conformal AEW system as potential E-3D replacements.

Thomas Withington


The UK is contemplating the replacement for its E-3D aircraft. (Photo: RAF)

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