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“Cost” Warning for Britain’s Wedgetail Program

Britain plans to downsize its Boeing E-7 Wedgetail AEW aircraft order as price goes higher. The original price tag was $1.98 billion in March 2019, but in the past 16 months, the cost has increased to $2.68 billion.

United Kingdom Defence Ministry has opened talks with Boeing to reduce its order for E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft, less than 18 months after signing a $1.98 billion contract to buy five of the aircraft.

The original contract was a sole source by eliminating Airbus Defence and Space and Saab. In an attempt to save money, MoD approached Boeing during the summer to reduce the number of aircraft from five to three, The Times’ defence correspondent Lucy Fisher reported in a series of Tweets posted this morning.

Wedgetail is intended to replace the Royal Air Force’s fleet of six Boeing E-3D AWACS aircraft, two of which are virtually retired and considered “long-term unserviceable assets” by the RAF.

According to Britain’s 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the E-3D Sentrys were planned to remain operational through 2035, but this depended on a proposed £2 billion upgrade which was later abandoned in order to achieve savings and generate RAF near-term efficiencies.

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