11 August 2005

New support contract for RAF’s ‘eyes in the skies’ will save up to £90 million

The UK Armed Forces will be able to better exploit their Sentry ‘early warning’ aircraft under a new £665 million support contract awarded to Northrop Grumman.

Sentry, the UK’s principal early warning and control aircraft, gives critical top-cover support to our Armed Forces in theatres of operation around the world.  Cruising at 30,000 feet it can detect airborne targets over 400 miles away and plays a major role in communicating and exploiting information as part of the Ministry of Defence’s Network Enabled Capability. 

Under the new style, long-term support contract, maintenance will be streamlined and improved to ensure more of the UK’s fleet of seven Sentry aircraft will be available for operations.

Speaking at RAF Waddington, near Lincoln, where the UK’s fleet of Sentry Aircraft are based, Minister for Defence Procurement, Lord Drayson, said:

‘‘Transforming the way we support Sentry will see real benefits for our Armed Forces as it guarantees more aircraft will be ready-to-fly, more of the time.   Effectively the new contract will halve the number of aircraft in the support hangar, with a maximum of one aircraft undergoing maintenance at any time.  Sentry has a superb operational record and the new contract with Northrop Grumman will ensure it performs at optimum levels for the next 20 years.’

‘‘This contract is also good news for the British taxpayer as it will reduce the cost of supporting Sentry by over 12% -  saving £90 million - whilst creating over 50 jobs here in Lincolnshire.’’ 

Through the innovative fleet availability contract, Northrop Grumman will be responsible for all aircraft scheduled maintenance including the provision of spares world-wide, design authority services and management of the aircraft structural integrity work, technical publications and a training service for all Sentry maintenance personnel.  A particular feature of this contract will be the close ‘partnered’ relationship engendered between MOD and the Industry team - all aimed at keeping this vital capability available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, world-wide.

British companies BAE Systems, FR Aviation and the UK division of AAR will operate as sub-contractors and create over 50 jobs based at RAF Waddington.

Notes to editors
1. Photos available on request
2. Sentry E-3D is one of the UK’s principal Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) assets.  The RAF operates seven Boeing 707-based Sentry aircraft at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire in an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) role. Since its introduction into service in 1992, the aircraft has been used in every major UK operation, seeing extensive use in campaigns in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.
3. FR Aviation is based in Bournemouth,  AAR in Mitcham, Surrey and BAE Systems in Warton, Lancashire
4. For further information please contact Stuart Campbell on 01225 467148 or Rebecca Gledhill on 07900 134 982

Last Updated: 11 Aug 05