12 July 2018
UK MPs warn over handing spy plane deal to US firm and wants tender UK MPs are demanding a competition to replace the RAF’s Boeing-built spyplanes rather than 'buying off the shelf' from the US company – especially considering its campaign against Bombardier which put thousands of UK jobs in danger.
Members of the defence select committee say an “open competition” must be held on any deal for new AWACS jets for Britain. The RAF’s fleet – distinguishable by the huge radar domes on their fuselages – have become worn out by heavy demands placed upon them. This has made them difficult and expensive to maintain.
The aircraft – officially called the as E-3D “Sentry” – monitor UK airspace for threats and direct fighters to intercept enemy forces. They form a key part of Britain’s defence network and are due to stay in service until 2035, though it is understood the Ministry of Defence may replace them sooner because of the high demands on them.
However, industry rivals to Boeing fear a contract to replace the fleet could be given to the US company without a competition. Now Julian Lewis, chairman of the defence committee, has written to Minister of Defence Procurement Guto Bebb warning him against such a strategy.
Mr Lewis added that it would be “particularly inappropriate” to give Boeing the contract after it led a campaign to have massive trade tariffs imposed in the US on airliners built by Bombardier. The 300 per cent levy would have made Bombardier’s airliners prohibitively expensive to American customers. This would have endangered thousands of jobs in the UK, where wings for the jet are made.
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