RAF’s new early warning planes to be based at Lossiemouth

The RAF’s new fleet of surveillance aircraft will be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, the UK Government has said.

The E-7 Wedgetail planes are due to arrive in 2023, replacing the existing E-3D Sentry as the RAF’s early warning aircraft.

Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said the Wedgetail fleet would bolster Scotland’s role in UK and Nato defence, working alongside the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft which began to arrive in October.

Both jets are based on the Boeing 737 and the Ministry of Defence says they will benefit from the recent improvements made to the runway at Lossiemouth.

Aerial view of RAF Lossiemouth
Aerial view of RAF Lossiemouth

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.

“Defence’s latest 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.”

Already used by the Royal Australian Air Force, the E-7 Wedgetail is able to track multiple targets in the air and on the ground using the advanced radar array it carries.

It will be operated by the RAF’s 8 Squadron, who are returning to Lossiemouth after 30 years.

Poseidon MRA1 arrives at RAF Lossiemouth
Poseidon MRA1 arrives at RAF Lossiemouth

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “The UK Government has invested £470 million in RAF Lossiemouth over the past two years, including a new £100 million strategic facility, housing the UK’s new fleet of nine submarine-hunting Poseidon P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, which has been built by Elgin-based Robertson.

“Indeed, this firm is also building the new shipbuilding hall for the Type 31 frigate programme at Rosyth in Fife, demonstrating just one of the many ways that UK defence benefits Scottish business.

“The arrival of the Wedgetail capability in Scotland will provide clear additional security and economic benefits to Scotland.”