The RAF’s latest surveillance aircraft, replacing the E-3D Sentry at RAF Waddington, will not stay in Lincolnshire and will instead be based in Scotland.
The E-7 Wedgetail is set to succeed the E-3D Sentry aircraft once the Sentry retires at the end of 2022, after 31 years in operation.
The retirement of the Sentry does also mean a change of scenery for its replacement, with the Wedgetail expected to be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland.
This is a return to the old home of the RAF’s 8 Squadron, after moving from Lossiemouth to Waddington in 1991 when the E-3D Sentry replaced the Shackleton aircraft.
In addition to this, 5 Squadron, along with five aircraft, are being withdrawn from service in 2023, and 51 Squadron are transferring to Mildenhall.
However, RAF Waddington will soon be the new permanent home for the Red Arrows, but it is not believed that this is connected to the decision to keep the Wedgetail in Moray.
These changes will leave RAF Waddington with just the 14 Squadron, impacting thousands of jobs both on station and in the surrounding area.
Lincoln MP Karl McCartney said: “This is disappointing news to those who had hoped the Wedgetail would be based at RAF Waddington, as the E-3D Sentry has since it first started operations with the RAF.
“I have been assured that RAF Waddington, as the RAF’s Intelligence, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance hub – remains a vital RAF station and will do so well into the future.
“Furthermore, it is important that we note RAF Waddington is still set to grow, with the new Protector force and the RAF Aerobatics Team (The Red Arrows) already announced as future arrivals on base, a further sign of the RAF’s continued investment in Lincolnshire.”
Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said: “Scotland’s proximity to the waters and skies of the North Atlantic is of crucial importance to the UK’s and Nato’s security – this is why important military bases such as HMNB Clyde and RAF Lossiemouth are located here.
“The decision to base the E-7 Wedgetail at RAF Lossiemouth demonstrates our commitment to investing in Scotland, and will complement and expand upon the success of Typhoon fast jet and submarine hunting Poseidon operations.”