Britain Confirms a Possible Single-Source Procurement for Boeing E-7 Wedgetail Aircraft

LONDON, the U.K. ( – U.K. Secretary of State for Defense, Gavin Williamson, confirmed the intentions for the U.K. Royal Air Force’s worn-out Sentry E-3D fleet to be replaced with Boeing Wedgetail E-7 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, by awarding a non-bid contract to the manufacturer. He also revealed that discussions over the future purchase have been held with the U.S. aerospace company, as well as with Australia for cooperation in the aircraft use, learned

Williamson said that Boeing E-7 Wedgetail has been selected because of its stand-out performance as a surveillance aircraft, already proven in Iraq and Syria. Furthermore, the conducted by the Ministry of Defense market analysis and discussions with other potential contractors showed that “the E-7 represents the best value for money option for the U.K. against need, whilst representing a significant opportunity for increased defense cooperation and collaboration with our key ally Australia.”

The U.K. Defense Secretary did not provide more information about the purchase, such as value and aircraft numbers, but it is expected the deal to reach U.S. $2.6 billion (£2 billion) for the acquisition of up to six aircraft. What is clear is that any British purchase of Wedgetail aircraft would be done with Boeing and not through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program and before the investment decision to be taken, there will be further discussions held with the U.S. provider.

In his announcement, Williamson pointed out that the Wedgetail aircraft procurement will increase the depth of cooperation between Britain and Australia, referring to the fact that in Australia a Wedgetails fleet already operates and there is several servicemen of British Royal Air Force who have been training on that aircraft since mid-year. He said, “Our future with Australia will already see us operate the same maritime patrol aircraft [the P-8], Type 26 warships and F-35 jets. Wedgetail may join that formidable armory and help us work together to take on the global threats that we both face.”

The talks between the U.K. and Boeing over the single-source Wedgetail procurement are expected to provoke anger and criticism among the local defense companies and Boeing’s rivals like Airbus and Saab, which previously discussed to join forces in order to offer cheaper and credible option to Boeing E-7 Wedgetail. The U.S. company is also subject to criticism for the other two recent contracts in the armored vehicle sector, it has secured without being held a competition.

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