Leonardo plans to certify electronic warfare equipment for the Royal Air Force’s (RAF) new E-7 Wedgetail AEW.1 airborne early warning aircraft by 2022.
Defensive Aids System (DAS)
In a statement given to Armada the firm said it had completed much of the integration work for these electronic warfare systems. Leonardo is providing the aircraft’s Defensive Aids System (DAS). The company’s Modular Advanced Platform Protection System (MAPPS) manages the DAS. The DAS includes a Thales ELIX-IR infrared missile approach warner/hostile fire indicator advises the crew of incoming missiles and small arms fire. The ELIX-IR is joined by Thales’ Vicon-XF countermeasures dispenser.
The statement added that Leonardo will deliver this electronic warfare kit to Boeing from late 2020. Deliveries will conclude in 2021. The statement says “all of the equipment is mature and ready for operations.” Some certification work remains which will finish by mid-2022.
Installation will be done by Boeing and STS Aviation Services at Birmingham International Airport in the UK’s West Midlands. The facility in Birmingham will convert standard 737-NG airframes into the E-7 Wedgetail AEW.1 configuration. This includes outfitting the planes with Northrop Grumman’s MESA (Mult-role Electronically Scanned Array) L-band (1.215GHz to 1.4GHz) airborne surveillance radar.
Royal Air Force’s (RAF)
The RAF should receive its first of five E-7s in 2023. Deliveries will finish in 2026. These will replace the air force’s four Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW.1 jets acquired between 1991 and 1992.