New deal signed on early warning radar aircraft
The UK has signed a new deal that will see the purchase of five E-7 aircraft to ensure the continued delivery of Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) capability.
These new aircraft will replace the current Sentry model and are expected to enter service with the RAF in the 2020s.
It is hoped the fleet, which has cost an estimated £1.5 billion, will be able to track multiple airborne and maritime targets at the same time in order to provide information for other vehicles, such as fighter jets and warships.
The aircraft is nicknamed 'Wedgetail' by the Australian Department for Defence and is renowned for its ability to fly for long periods of time.
It has been widely used in the battle against Islamist extremists in Iraq and Syria and is based on a Boeing 737-700.
However, modifications include an advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar, which can cover four million square kilometres during a single ten-hour mission.
The surveillance radar is located on a dorsal fin on top of the fuselage and the modifications for these new aircraft will be carried out in the UK, supporting more than 200 jobs.
Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Hillier said the purchase is excellent news for the RAF.
"E-7 will form a core element of the Next Generation Air Force, able to overcome both current and future complex threats," he added.