Royal Air Force base Lossiemouth has been selected as the new home of the UK’s fleet of Wedgetail airborne early warning (AEW) Mk1 surveillance aircraft, the service announced on Friday.
Delivering a step change in capability from the current E-3D Sentry, the Wedgetail is capable of simultaneously tracking multiple airborne and maritime targets, using the information it gathers to improve situational awareness and direct assets such as fighter jets and warships. The Wedgetail has previously been used by the Royal Australian Air Force on operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
The Wedgetail will be co-located with the new Poseidon fleet, which is also based on Boeing 737 model. The Poseidon submarine-hunting aircraft are already providing operational support in the area.
Operating both fleets of Boeing 737 type aircraft from the same location will take advantage of the new £100m state-of-the-art facility and the recent £75m runway upgrade. The decision is also expected to support hundreds of jobs and provide a boost to the local economy.
The arrival of the Wedgetail in 2023 will also mark a return to RAF Lossiemouth for 8 Squadron, after an absence of 30 years.
RAF Lossiemouth is already home to half of the UK’s operational Typhoon fast jet fleet, which conduct Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) to protect the UK’s airspace.
The UK is buying five E-7 Wedgetail aircraft under a $1.98 billion contract with Boeing from March 2019. The E-7 fleet will replace the current E-3D Sentry aircraft.
With the E-7 Wedgetail, the RAF will join an airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) fleet of 14 aircraft in operation around the world with the, Royal Australian Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force and Turkish Air Force.