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Row brewing over Boeing Wedgetail jets

Defence chiefs who have been criticised for buying American “Awacs” airborne radar aircraft from Boeing and failing to run an open competition are trying to head off the row by “Anglicising” the aircraft with British-made components.
The RAF wants to replace its worn-out fleet of E-3D “Sentry” aircraft and is understood to be poised to agree a deal with the US aerospace giant for its E-7 “Wedgetail” jets.
However, the E-7 has very little UK content, meaning British companies will hardly benefit from the ?2bn deal.
Rival defence companies are furious that the contract has not been opened to competition, though others say the E-7 is already combat proven and other products could take years to develop.
Row brewing over Boeing Wedgetail jets

The RAF's fleet of E-3D airborne warning and control jets have been worn out by heavy demands on them 

Credit:
SAC Andy Stevens/RAF
Now MoD bosses are understood to be working with Boeing to load up the six E-7s expected to be ordered with UK-made parts to make the sale politically acceptable.
It was expected the deal would be revealed around July’s Farnborough airshow. However, the contract is understood to have been pushed back partly because of attempts to add British content.
RAF personnel are already training on the E-7 with the Australian airforce, which has the jet in service.
The MoD has been previously been attacked for handing Boeing multi-billion pound contracts without opening them to companies which would carry out work on them in the UK. Recent examples include P-8 spyplanes and Apache helicopters ordered by the MoD.
Row brewing over Boeing Wedgetail jets

The RAF bought pP-8 Poseidon surveillance jets from Boeing without running an competitive tender
Attempts to drive work into the UK are thought to include Cambridge-based Marshall converting the Boeing 737 airliner the E-7 is based on to military specification. Major maintenance work once the aircraft join the RAF could also be done in the UK, rather than flying them back to the US.
However, defence insiders have questioned the value of the MoD’s moves.
“It’s like making the toilet doors for foreign-built train,” said one. “None of the high-value, high-skilled work will be here, meaning British industry loses out again to Boeing.”
MPs on the Defence Select Committee have warned the MoD against “buying off the shelf” from Boeing without running a competition.
Chairman Julian Lewis said: “If the MoD’s procurement record was one of unalloyed success they could argue relying on their judgment rather than a competition is reasonable. That’s not the case and it’s wholly unreasonable to exclude viable alternatives.”
A Boeing spokesman said: “We work with our UK supply chain, government and military partners to provide critical capability, UK content, UK exports, skills and value for money.”
The MoD said a decision on an AWACS “will be taken in the best interests of national security in the face on intensifying threats after full consideration. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”
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