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FutureStarrThe United States Air Force Flags Plans to Buy 26 E-7 Planes From Boeing
The United States Air Force announced plans to purchase 26 Boeing E-7 planes as replacements for their ageing fleet of E-3 Sentry AWACSs. These planes are based on the Boeing 737 Next Generation and feature an electronically scanning radar.
Australia, Turkey, South Korea and the Royal Air Force have already chosen the E-7A Wedgetail as their most advanced Airborne Early Warning and Control platform, providing surveillance and situational awareness to multiple airborne and maritime targets simultaneously.
The E-7A Wedgetail, developed by the Australian Air Force for its own use, is an airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft designed to operate as a tactical battle space management system that can detect and direct threats both airborne and on land.
The AEW&C aircraft is based on the Boeing 737 Next Generation airplane and incorporates a Northrop Grumman Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar. Unlike its rotating counterpart, which was installed in the E-3 Sentry's radome, this radar can operate at longer ranges with greater operational capability.
Australia, Turkey and South Korea have also begun using E-7-based air battlespace management systems. This marks a significant development in the US Air Force's Agile Combat Employment (ACE) doctrine for air battlespace management.
Warfighters gain essential domain awareness in all weather conditions, enabling them to focus on priority missions, rapidly revisit targets, and pass relevant information for timely command-and-control decisions and engagement of threats at long ranges. Furthermore, it offers more surveillance than the AWACS fleet with its electronic array that permits energy directed either in a broad or narrower surveillance role.
In the United Kingdom, Royal Air Force (UK) is purchasing five E-7Wedgetails as part of their plan to replace their aging E-3 Sentry fleet. This order was announced in March 2019 and marks a significant step for UK Aeronautical Engineering & Construction (AEW&C), providing fast jet pilots with enhanced visibility in the sky.
The E-7Wedgetail's modern AEW&C surveillance radar has been a game-changer for the Royal Air Force. By combining layers of airborne radar, an integrated datalink, and centralized command and control systems, this aircraft is now capable of detecting and targeting targets from long distances.
It is an incredible accomplishment for the UK, which not only gains from technological advances in modern AEW&C aircraft, but also from having them in service for several years. At this time of global crisis, Royal Air Force needs a robust yet flexible surveillance platform capable of supporting 5th and 6th generation combat operations - as well as being close to British Army's Future Combat Systems program.
The E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) has long been a symbol of America's determination to resist foreign aggression. Its iconic radar combined with an identification friend or foe (IFF) system can penetrate ground clutter to detect, identify, and track enemy aircraft. Furthermore, this airborne command and control battle management capability supports air-to-air activities like interdiction, reconnaissance, airlift, as well as close air support for friendly ground forces.
Its mobility allows it to quickly adjust its mission profile according to any given scenario and sustain operations without refueling for extended periods of time. This puts mobile aircraft in a better position of survival during combat than their fixed-wing ground-based counterparts.
As such, the Sentry can provide timely and precise data to partners across land, air and sea - as well as in times of emergency, the president and secretary of defense. As an airborne radar system, it has the capacity to rapidly respond to threats and direct fighter-interceptor aircraft against enemies.
The AWACS system has been deployed in more than sixty countries around the world, providing surveillance and command and control for U.S. and NATO forces. With 10 million flying hours logged across Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia alone - this aircraft boasts unparalleled coverage capabilities.
At present, there are 68 E-3 AWACS aircraft in service - half owned by the United States and the rest by NATO or other nations. All these AWACS are managed by NATO's NAEW&C Programme Management Organization comprised of sixteen member nations.
Since its inception, the Sentry has been an indispensable asset to both the United States and its allies, providing surveillance, target detection, tracking and command/control services across various missions. Its E-3 capability to maintain constant awareness of its environment as well as adapt quickly in changing circumstances have ensured its long-term success in supporting global military deployments.
As the E-3 age and become less capable, the Air Force plans to replace some of its 31 E-3 AWACS aircraft with Boeing E-7 Wedgetail radar jets. Based on a modified version of the Boeing 737, this aircraft is much cheaper to maintain and operate than current E-3s, making it a more attractive replacement choice. The Air Force plans on awarding a sole source contract in early 2023 using rapid prototyping in order to make an operational decision by 2025.
The E-7 Wedgetail is a military aircraft designed to provide airborne surveillance and battle management capabilities. Based on the Boeing 737 airframe, it utilizes Northrop Grumman's Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array radar (MESA). Unlike its rotating counterpart, which ranges up to 200 nautical miles in all weather conditions, MESA operates permanently.
It can simultaneously track multiple airborne and maritime targets, providing situational awareness and directing other assets such as fighter jets and warships.
The E-7 Wedgetail, originally developed by Boeing and manufactured in Australia, South Korea and Turkey, has proved its mettle during numerous operational campaigns. It provides 360 degree coverage with 360 degree detection and tracking capability of air and sea targets while providing simultaneous air search, area search, fighter control and domain awareness for four nations including the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force. This aircraft serves as their main AEW&C capability.
This system can track and control aircraft, ships and missiles at long ranges. It also commands unmanned aerial vehicles like ScanEagle drones for easy operation.
Due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and ensuing hostility towards NATO, an upgrade for the E-3 Sentry AWACS fleet is necessary. The E-7 Wedgetail offers a better option than its aging counterpart since it uses a modern jetliner which saves money on maintenance and operation costs.
The E-7 will also be more reliable and faster than the Sentry, allowing it to fly longer missions and remain in service for an extended period of time.
Another advantage is the E-7 Wedgetail's capability to monitor and track incoming cruise missiles. This helps guarantee fighter jets can safely enter anti-access zones or area denial zones where they might otherwise be unable to reach their targets.
As with all major defense acquisitions, it is essential to carefully weigh the costs against potential advantages. In the case of the E-7, its costs are more than reasonable and it will remain a valuable asset for years to come.
On Wednesday, a senior United States Air Force officer indicated their plans to purchase 26 E-7 planes from Boeing in an effort to replace the growing fleet of aging E-3 Sentry airborne early warning and control aircraft in the Indo-Pacific region. General Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of Pacific Air Forces based in Oahu, Hawaii, recommended this acquisition during an online Air Force Association symposium.
The Air Force has long sought to replace its E-3s, which are based on a 1970s-era Boeing 707 airliner, with an alternative, more cost-effective system capable of meeting various military demands. In its fiscal 2023 budget request, they stated their intent to conduct research, development and testing for an "electronic battle management systems (ABMS) prototype" before making a production decision in fiscal 2025.
The E-7 Aeronautical Electronic Warfare and Control system is designed to scan the skies, communicate with surface and air assets, and facilitate joint efforts. It also provides ground forces and fighter jets with information regarding incoming munitions such as cruise missiles.
According to the Air Force, this aircraft is an invaluable maritime search and surveillance asset. It can cover up to four million square miles during a single 10 hour mission, while its Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array radar allows it to detect, track, and identify multiple targets simultaneously.
Additionally, Wedgetail can direct the movements of fighter jets and other aerial assets. In a recent operation in Afghanistan, for example, it provided command and control over fighters conducting airstrikes against Islamic State targets.
Unlike the E-3, which is built upon the Boeing 737 and contains a lot of expensive equipment, the E-7 can use a standard avionics suite. This makes it cheaper to maintain and operate, plus more fuel-efficient than a Sentry.
Another advantage is the E-7's versatility; it can be equipped with various sensors like laser and EO/IR. Plus, its connectivity to other aircraft like unmanned aerial vehicles and ships makes it more versatile than its predecessor the E-3.
The Wedgetail's capabilities are especially advantageous for Australia, which already has a substantial AWACS fleet but lacks the capacity to track and manage incoming cruise missiles and other munitions. Therefore, adding this weapon system would provide Australia with one of the most advanced air battle management capabilities worldwide.
Governor Ron DeSantis' appointees on the Board of Trustees at New College of Florida have unanimously voted to abolish their office responsible for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at the school - an effort which conservatives across the state university system have long opposed.
On Tuesday, the New College board voted to abolish its office and transfer its four full-time employees into other positions as part of a review of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies.
At a packed meeting attended by students and protesters on Tuesday night, New College of Florida trustees voted to end Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) programs. This followed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' appointment of six conservative appointees to the school board.
The newly formed board also voted to terminate President Patricia Okker and replace her with former state House speaker Richard Corcoran as interim president. Led by DeSantis allies, this new board has been working hard to transform the college into a more conservative institution with an increasingly partisan focus.
At a board meeting on Tuesday evening, Okker attempted three times to deliver her farewell speech but was interrupted by members of the conservative board. Ultimately, nine out of 13 votes were cast in favor of terminating her without cause and designating Dr. Bradley Thiessen as acting president until Corcoran can take over for good.
According to her contract with the college, trustees have the authority to terminate her without cause if they feel she has failed to fulfill her duties. They must give her at least six months' notice prior to any such action. Likewise, they could fire her with cause if they feel she has done too little for their needs.
Okker, who has served as president of the school since July 2021, will receive a year-long sabbatical and 20-week severance pay period. She would then be eligible for a full-time teaching position at the college if she accepts this offer.
On Tuesday morning, the New College board met to discuss DeSantis' announcement that he intends to eliminate DEI programs at all state colleges and universities. This decision is part of his larger plan for reforming education in Florida.
At their meeting, trustees also decided to review the college's diversity training policies. While applicants must submit a diversity statement with their application, no training is mandatory for faculty and staff members.
In response, the board directed leaders on campus to discontinue six diversity training programs, including one specifically tailored for college police officers. This decision was made after Brad Thiessen - the college administrator - reviewed its policies.
Governor Ron DeSantis' decision to move New College in a more conservative direction spurred trustees on Tuesday to vote to abolish diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs. Doing so, they took another step towards eliminating political ideology from Florida's public higher education system.
DeSantis' handpicked board appointees at New College include Christopher Rufo, an anti-critical race theory activist who has derided its DEI programs as "McCarthyite." He said he wants to remake Sarasota's liberal arts college into something similar to Hillsdale College in Michigan - a highly conservative private Christian university.
On Tuesday, the New College Board of Trustees--reformed under DeSantis' leadership--met for the first time since he fired former president Patricia Okker. Students, parents and alumni attended a rally prior to the meeting in protest, declaring their opposition to these changes.
A recent reshuffle on the college board -- featuring seven new conservative activists -- has resulted in the removal of its Office of Outreach & Inclusive Excellence, a small but influential office that sought to promote an inclusive campus atmosphere. According to college administration's review, however, no in-depth study had been done into its effectiveness, there was inadequate training for faculty or staff, and employees weren't required to submit diversity statements when applying for jobs.
Many speakers, including students and faculty present, spoke against the decisions at both the meeting and later during a Zoom call with an online audience. They characterized it as an attempt to muzzle progressive voices while others objected to Corcoran's hire as political maneuver with excessive base pay.
One student present on the Zoom call expressed her disappointment that she hadn't been given an opportunity to voice her opinion regarding Corcoran's hiring. She requested that trustees consider other candidates and adhere to state law which requires open meetings.
Grace Keenan, a member of the board, expressed her dissatisfaction with Corcoran's hiring and that it breached Florida's Sunshine Law that guarantees people access to government proceedings. She believed that this constituted an improper use of power that could have an adverse impact on New College and its reputation.
Tuesday morning, trustees at the New College of Florida - a Sarasota honors college - voted to abolish its four-person Office of Outreach & Inclusive Excellence. This office had been responsible for diversity initiatives on campus.
The board of trustees recently voted to end diversity trainings and ban identity-based preferences in admissions, hiring practices, and promotions. This decision is estimated to save the school an estimated $250,000 annually.
According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, in order to address these changes, the board will review both current staff and policies at the office. After making their recommendations to the college president, who ultimately has final approval over these modifications, trustees are expected to make recommendations for implementation.
In addition to these changes, the board will examine how the college's diversity initiatives align with its goals and objectives. For instance, they plan to examine how it collaborates with local human rights and law enforcement groups.
Additionally, the board will assess whether or not the college's current policy against discrimination complies with federal law. Furthermore, it will inspect hiring practices to guarantee candidates are not being discriminated against.
The Office of Inclusion, Equity and Leadership at the college has three primary responsibilities: faculty/staff recruitment, retention strategies and internal relations. Their mission is to recruit a diverse faculty/staff while cultivating an atmosphere of inclusivity within the university community.
A central objective is to foster faculty and staff professional growth through a diversity-focused program. Furthermore, the office offers training for campus and community organizations.
Additionally, the office collaborates with other college offices to create and coordinate college-wide outreach initiatives. Examples of these efforts include the G-Force mentorship program, Latino Student Council and multicultural scholastic awards program.
The office has collaborated with college leadership to develop a Bearcat Equity Reporting Form that allows students and employees to report instances of discrimination or bias. After reviewing each report, members of the Bias Response Team review it for compliance with university policies.
The Office of Inclusive Excellence supports the Council on Inclusive Excellence, serving as Bard College's primary center for diversity and inclusion. Composed of Bard students, faculty and staff members, this council meets annually to discuss concerns and plan projects. Furthermore, they're currently creating a Community Relations Working Group in order to collaborate with local organizations involved in diversity-related work.
Speir noted in a blog post that trustees were expected to consider appointing a new general counsel. He stressed the importance of having an experienced legal representative on board as part of any college's governance team, and noted how crucial this position can be in reaching decisions made by the board.
A successful general counsel candidate must possess sound judgment, the capacity to assess and weigh multiple inputs and effects when making decisions, especially when handling legal matters involving the College.
The general counsel should collaborate closely with the Board of Trustees and President, helping them fulfill their legal responsibilities and providing advice on policies, practices and procedures that safeguard and promote the College's interests.
Sandy Curko has been named Iona College's next general counsel, effective May 9, 2022. As an esteemed expert in higher education law, civil and commercial litigation and labor and employment law, she will offer guidance as the College continues to expand with the acquisition of a second campus in Bronxville and development of NewYork-Presbyterian Iona School of Health Sciences.
Curko is currently employed as assistant vice president and general counsel at Queens College of The City University of New York, providing legal support to the President, administration and affiliated entities. Her accomplishments include cultivating and nurturing positive relationships with diverse constituencies within Queens College; advocating for compliance initiatives; and creating a collaborative atmosphere between her office and other campus offices.
The Office of the General Counsel is an integral partner to the College in fulfilling its mission to offer quality educational programs for diverse students by providing legal advice, representation and assistance in all legal matters affecting its operations. They strive to minimize legal risks and costs for the College while safeguarding its integrity, reputation and core values.
The office also manages legal matters related to the College's relationships with governmental agencies and attorneys, such as handling subpoenas, service of process requests, open public record requests, responding to audits and investigations by government entities. Furthermore, it reviews external vendor contracts and advises the President and Board of Trustees on legal matters that may arise during daily operations at the College.