Scottish business McLaughlin & Harvey Construction Limited have been awarded a contract to build a new facility ready for the arrival of the UK E-7 Wedgetail fleet at RAF Lossiemouth.

Image: MOD Crown Copyright

The new cutting-edge surveillance fleet will be housed in infrastructure at the Scottish base sitting alongside the recently completed Atlantic Building, from which the UK’s fleet of nine Poseidon MRA Mk1 aircraft already operate.

Creating 125 jobs in the local area, including seven new trainee positions in engineering and construction, the investment will boost the local economy and supporting supply chain, reaffirming the UK Government’s commitment to investing in Scotland. The move helps deliver on the Prime Minister’s priority to grow the economy, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country.

Subcontracted under a £83 million contract awarded to Boeing Defence UK (BDUK) by UK Ministry of Defence, the investment will enable the build of a new training facility and a second unit the size of an Olympic swimming pool where combined Poseidon and Wedgetail engineering will be delivered by serving RAF personnel.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Alex Chalk KC, said:

This is another significant investment for Defence in Scotland, creating hundreds of jobs and bolstering the local economy.

Scotland has a proud history as home to some our most critical defence assets, and this investment will enable the new fleet of cutting-edge E-7 aircraft to support that vital capability.

As the world’s most advanced, capable and reliable Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) platform, the E-7 will provide intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance for the RAF.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said:

This new facility and arrival of the UK’s fleet of E-7 Wedgetail surveillance aircraft ensures that RAF Lossiemouth remains one of the most key military air stations in western Europe, vital to maintaining the security of the UK and our NATO allies.

Nothing is more important than defending our country, but this £83m contract award – and the creation of 125 jobs – is another great example of how UK defence investment is growing the economy and creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country.

Air Commodore Alex Hicks, the Wedgetail programme lead for the RAF, said:

The contract signing for the construction of the UK Wedgetail operating facility is a significant achievement, and I would like to thank everyone involved in making it happen. The facility is a critical enabler for the Wedgetail capability allowing the full potential of the aircraft to be realised. It will also play a significant role in providing industrial resilience to the local community and wider Scotland.

Capable of simultaneously tracking multiple airborne and maritime targets, the E-7 aircraft uses the information it gathers to improve situational awareness and direct assets such as fighter jets and warships. The aircraft has previously been used by the Royal Australian Air Force on operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

The arrival of Wedgetail further bolsters the reputation of Lossiemouth which enjoys a strategic location and state-of-the-art facilities.

Lyndon Jones, E-7 Wedgetail Infrastructure lead at DE&S, said:

We are proud to have facilitated this major milestone that will allow the co-location of the Wedgetail aircraft with the Poseidon fleet, drawing together the various supporting functions to drive efficiencies across the enterprise.

The facilities will be ready for the arrival of the first aircraft Wedgetail aircraft, marking a return to RAF Lossiemouth for 8 Squadron, who will operate the aircraft, after an absence of 30 years.

Steve Burnell, Managing Director of Boeing Defence UK said:

Boeing is no stranger to delivering projects of this magnitude and complexity in Scotland, and we’re especially proud to be once again collaborating with our local supply chain to help create and sustain new jobs in the region.

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