Wedgetail delayed a year as negotiations continue with Boeing

By Shelley K. Mesch  / April 16, 2024

At least one of the E-7A Wedgetail prototypes will be a year late due to ongoing price negotiations with prime contractor Boeing, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall disclosed today.

“The price that we got from the prime came in much higher than we had anticipated,” Kendall said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. “We’ve been involved in negotiations trying to get it down. We have come much closer, but we’re not really at closure yet.”

Boeing and the Air Force may have an agreement soon, he said, though he called that an “optimistic” timeline.

“We’re still committed to the program, but we’ve got to have an affordable aircraft,” he said.

The costs come from U.S.-specific modifications to the Wedgetail, which has been used in Australia for several years, primarily integrating communications capabilities, Kendall said.

Kendall and service acquisition chief Andrew Hunter both disclosed the negotiation delays earlier this year.

The delay to Wedgetail comes after the service had pushed to speed the timeline of the aircraft to replace the outdated E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, which commanders have pushed to recapitalize for years.

The first Wedgetail had been expected for delivery in fiscal year 2027, the service said at the time of the contract award to Boeing last year.