RAF Lossiemouth is to become the home of the UK’s new fleet of surveillance aircraft.
The first of the E-7 Wedgetail aircraft are expected to arrive at the Moray base in 2023 in a move the Ministry of Defence says will bolster Scotland’s role in UK and Nato defence and security.
The new surveillance aircraft will deliver a “step change in capability” from the E-3D Sentry aircraft currently in use, with the new Wedgetail’s capable of simultaneously tracking multiple airborne and maritime targets.
Information gathered will be used to guide in fighter jets and warships to combat threats.
Minister of State for Defence, 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 will complement and expand upon the success of Typhoon fast jet and submarine hunting Poseidon operations.”
The arrival of the Wedgetail in 2023 will also mark a return to RAF Lossiemouth for 8 Squadron, after an absence of 30 years.
The Wedgetail aircraft has already been used by other military across the globe including the Australian Air Force in Iraq and Syria.
The new fleet will be co-located with the new Poisdean fleet at RAF Lossiemouth following a £100million investment into a new facility, as well as a £75million upgrade to the runway.
The MoD says the decision to house both fleets of Boeing 737 type aircraft will support hundreds of jobs and boost the local economy.
RAF Lossiemouth is already home to half of the UK’s operational Typhoon fast jet fleet, which conduct quick reaction alert (QRA) to protect the UK’s airspace, and complete Nato air policing duties on behalf of allies.
Moray MP Douglas Ross said: “This is fantastic news and another clear sign of the UK Government’s commitment to the armed forces here in Moray and Scotland more widely.
“The addition of the Wedgetail fleet not only improves the UK’s security and defence capability but it will also mean hundreds more service personnel stationed here – which in turn means a significant boost to the local economy.
“Our military bases at Lossiemouth and Kinloss are vital to this area and I am delighted to see this Conservative government continuing to invest in Moray.”
Scottish Secretary Alister Jack added: “The UK Government has invested £470m in RAF Lossiemouth over the past two years, including a new £100-million strategic facility for the UK’s new fleet of nine submarine-hunting Poseidon P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, 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.”
It is anticipated that basing the Wedgetail fleet will bring further investment and civilian and military jobs to Moray.
|Length||110 feet (33.6m)|
|Wing Span||114 feet|
|Max Take-off Weight||171,000 lbs|
|Service ceiling||41,000 feet (12,500m)|
|Cruise speed||530 mph|
|Propulsion||2 x 27,300 lb thrust|
|Unfuelled range||3,500NM (6,500 km)|