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Marshall to work on Royal Air Force's £1.51bn fleet of E-7 Wedgetail early warning aircraft




Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group will carry out much of the work to provide the Royal Air Force with its new E-7 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft.

An artist's impression of the E-7 Wedgetail aircraft. Image: RAF (8055210)
An artist's impression of the E-7 Wedgetail aircraft. Image: RAF (8055210)

The Ministry of Defence announced a £1.51billion contract with Boeing last Friday to supply five ‘Wedgetails’, which feature advanced radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles to track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.

The E-7 is based on a standard Boeing 737 airliner, but is modified to carry the Northrop Grumman active electronically-scanned radar, which can cover four million square kilometres in a 10-hour period.

Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group will work on the modifications.

Alistair McPhee, CEO of the Cambridge company, said: “We are delighted with the news that the Ministry of Defence has confirmed its intention to replace its current early warning aircraft with Boeing’s E-7 Wedgetail and are very excited to partner with Boeing to undertake extensive modification work required.

“This is a very important programme that underlines the strength of our long-standing relationship with Boeing and reinforces our expertise in delivering complex integration projects.

“Clearly, the E-7 is a new platform for Marshall and as such this programme represents very positive news for our workforce enabling us to protect and develop vital engineering skills within our military aerospace business.”

The contract is expected to sustain hundreds of aerospace jobs throughout Boeing’s UK supply chain, many of them at Marshall.

The capabilities of the E-7 Wedgetail aircraft. Image: RAF (8055208)
The capabilities of the E-7 Wedgetail aircraft. Image: RAF (8055208)

The aircraft can be used todetect aircraft, ships and vehicles at long range and direct other assets such as fighter jets and warships. It is currently in service with the Royal Australian Air Force and has been used on operations in the battle against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

The E-7 fleet will replace the current E-3D Sentry aircraft.

Announcing the new fleet, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The E-7 provides a technological edge in an increasingly complex battlespace, allowing our pilots to track and target adversaries more effectively than ever. This deal also strengthens our vital military partnership with Australia.

“We will operate the same state-of-the-art F-35 jets and world-class Type-26 warships, and this announcement will help us work even more closely together to tackle the global threats we face.”

Anna Keeling, managing director of Boeing Defence UK, added: “The E-7 is the world’s most advanced, capable and reliable command-and-control aircraft, and it is demonstrating its value around the world every day. It will provide the RAF with a combat-proven capability that is both low risk and unmatched.”

Marshall has won a string of valuable contracts in recent months, including two deals to supply the Danish Armed Forces in February.

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