The Air Force’s fleet of E-3 AWACS radar planes is on its last legs. The most decrepit aircraft will start heading to the boneyard this year, and finding spare parts for the remaining planes is becoming difficult. After all, the Boeing 707 jetliner on which the E-3 is based was designed in the 1950s and retired by airlines decades ago. Fortunately, a successor is waiting in the wings: a more capable surveillance and battle management aircraft called the E-7 Wedgetail that only costs a third as much as AWACS to operate. Only one problem: it isn’t being built fast enough. The Air Force needs to buy four E-7s per year if it is to take the place of AWACS before those planes are too decrepit to fly. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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