The US Department of the Air Force (DAF) has selected the Boeing E-7 Wedgetail to replace a part of the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet.
The E-7 was the “only platform 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,” the DAF said.
A contract is expected to be awarded in 2023 calling for rapid prototyping to deliver the aircraft by 2027.
$227 Million Requested for Prototype Contract
The service has requested $227 million in “research, development, test and evaluation funds” for the aircraft in the 2023 budget, which will come from the retirement of 15 of the fleet’s 31 E-3s.
The air force is also planning to fund a second rapid prototype aircraft in 2024,l followed by a “production decision in 2025 fiscal to continue fielding aircraft.”
The E-7 is outfitted on the Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft, which is smaller and more fuel efficient then the 707-based E-3 Sentry, according to The War Zone. The E-7 was developed by Australia for the Australian Defence Forces.
Air Combat Command chief Gen. Mark D. Kelly was quoted as saying the E-3s have “served our nation well.”
However, “there’s a reason why exactly zero airlines on the globe fly the 707,” he said. “Because it takes miracle workers every day to just get it up in the air.”