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USAF to acquire E-7 Wedgetail as E-3 AWACS replacement

The US Air Force will replace a portion of its ageing Boeing 707-based E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS) fleet with the E-7 Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) system which is currently in service with the RAAF, the UK’s RAF, the Republic of Korea Air Force and the Turkish Air Force.

The Boeing 737-based E-7 Wedgetail is the only platform capable of meeting the requirements for the US 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 (FY23).

The FY23 President’s Budget request includes US$227 million in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation funds starting in FY23. These funds support the acquisition of a rapid prototype aircraft from 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 15 of 31 existing E-3 AWACS aircraft and redirects funding to procure and field its replacement.

The E-7 system was developed by Boeing, Northrop Grumman and Australian industry for the RAAF. The US-Australia alliance and interoperability between the two countries’ armed forces enabled the Department of the Air Force to leverage this considerable investment and exceptional capability, according to the USAF.

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