UK RAF Wedgetail 640First RAF Wedgetail receives MESA radar

The Royal Air Force (RAF) showed photo footage of the first Wedgetail AEW1 receiving its Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar.

The conversion of the Boeing 737 to the Wedgetail AEW1 is done at STS Aviation Services at Birmingham (UK). The first B737 arrived in January 2021 and the last one in September 2021. Each conversion takes about 24 months, with work on the first aircraft starting in 2021 and the last to be completed in 2026.

The UK MoD originally intended to buy five Wedgetails, two to be converted airliners and three new aircraft. However, in the 2021 Integrated Defence Review the order was reduced to three aircraft.

Delivery of the first aircraft is planned for next year. The timeline for Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft has already slipped to 2024.

The Boeing 737s involved are:

B737-73W (BBJ1) N946BC (c/n 38633/3329), arrived at STS in January 2021
B737-73W (BBJ1) N947BC (c/n 40117/3701), arrived at STS in September 2021
B737-700 N576JK (c/n 66840/9103), arrived at STS in July 2021

The three Wedgetails will be operated by VIII Squadron from RAF Lossiemouth. The RAF reserved the serials WT001 to WT003 for the Wedgetails, but the tie-up is not known yet.

Photo by Royal Air Force

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