Aircraft to Become the RAF’s First Wedgetail Now in the UK
- 737 NG landed at Birmingham Airport and taxied into the STS Aviation Services hangar
- Programme will create hundreds of jobs in the UK, including more than 100 in the West Midlands
BIRMINGHAM, January 7, 2021 - The Boeing aircraft that will become the first Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Mk1 aircraft for the Royal Air Force (RAF) landed today at Birmingham Airport.
The Next-Generation 737 flew from a Boeing supplier in the United States to Birmingham, where STS Aviation Services will convert it into the first aircraft for the UK’s future airborne battle management fleet. The work will create more than 100 highly skilled jobs in Birmingham, with STS Aviation Services and Boeing. More than 50 Boeing employees work on the programme in other parts of the UK, including Bristol and Yeovil.
“Today marks a major accomplishment for this programme and the RAF,” said Anna Keeling, managing director of Boeing Defence UK. “While hundreds of people throughout the UK and around the world have been working on this programme since the contract was signed, we now have the airframe that will become the RAF’s first Wedgetail in the country, where Boeing and our valued UK suppliers will work together to produce in Birmingham the world’s most advanced, capable and reliable command-and-control aircraft.”
Besides STS, Leonardo will deliver an integrated Defensive Aids System from its operation in Luton. Thales UK, under a subcontract from Leonardo, will provide systems from its facilities in Reading, Bury St. Edmunds and Glasgow. The programme is expected to sustain hundreds of jobs in the UK throughout its lifecycle.
Work at the site began in the summer, with tooling and parts arriving in preparation, including Section 46, or the part of the fuselage where the aircraft’s Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar will be installed. Northrop Grumman will deliver the MESA radar.
The Wedgetail’s advanced radar and 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles can track airborne and maritime targets simultaneously, allowing crews to direct offensive and defensive forces, while maintaining continuous surveillance of an operational area.
The Wedgetail is a proven aircraft currently in service around the world, including with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Republic of Korea Air Force and Turkish Air Force. RAF crews that will one day fly on the aircraft now in Birmingham, have been training with the RAAF in Australia since 2018.
Boeing’s command-and-control aircraft expertise began in 1977, when it first modified a 707 aircraft for the United States.
About Boeing in the United Kingdom
Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading provider of commercial airplanes, defence, space and security systems, and global services. The company supports commercial and government customers in more than 150 countries, and leverages the talents of a global supplier base. Boeing has a UK workforce of 2,500 direct employees across the country and spends £2 billion a year in the UK supply chain. For more information visit www.boeing.co.uk or follow us on Twitter @BoeingUK.