DefenceSynergia Commentary On Air Staff E-3D Plans

 

 

The ambition of the RAF is to be commended – albeit that a desire to balance the budget seems to have gained more traction with the Air Staff than the air defence of the UK and its interests.

 

 

DefenceSynergia Commentary On Air Staff E-3D Plans

The ambition of the RAF is to be commended – albeit that a desire to balance the budget seems to have gained more traction with the Air Staff than the air defence of the UK and its interests.

 

SDSRs 2010 and 2015 reinforced by the recent 2021 Integrated Review called for improvements in all manner of cyber, sensor, AI, ISTAR, autonomous command and control systems. Yet the methodology implemented by the Air Staff is to ‘gap capability’ using the pretence that we have time in hand to scrap and replace assets and our allies will help fill any gaps we are unwilling to pay for just now! In every case, a viable fleet is not only retired early but its late replacement is purchased in ever decreasing numbers the spurious argument being employed is that new technology and capability make up for lack of numbers.

Everyone, but the Air Staff it seems, knows that eleven years after SDSR 2010 the RAF is still behind the ISTAR capability drag curve. And, that one aircraft, however allegedly capable, can only ever be in one section of airspace at any one time. What is it they say ostriches do?

So, we are asked to blithely accept that 9 x P-8 Poseidon are to replace a force of over 30 LRMPA gapped back in 2010 – the first are just arriving. That Sentinel (ASTOR) gone and not replaced at all. Now the Air Staff declare they are retiring the last of 7 x E-3D (one of which had suffered minor damaged and not repaired, to save budget) whilst still awaiting only 3 x P-7 Wedgetail AEW to replace them, but not until 2023! A single ‘Barrier’ fleet? To do what, when, and where DS wonders?

According to MOD the public need not worry because E-3 AWACS is still the mainstay of NATO and they will fill the gap left by the premature retirement of the RAF’s similar but apparently more obsolete aircraft? Obviously, the wear and tear is greater on an RAF AWACS aircraft than it is on one with OTAN or USAF markings!

Perhaps the Air Staff motto is not ‘Per ardua ad astra’ after all but ‘acies minus resistentia’