Defense contractors are gearing up for a potential competition to replace the Royal Air Force’s Boeing E-3 Sentry airborne early warning aircraft after the UK’s Parliamentary Defense Committee put pressure on the UK’s defense ministry to not award a sole-source contract for the effort.

Aviation Week has reported several times that senior RAF officials have been briefed on Boeing’s E-7 airborne warning and control aircraft to replace the E-3 fleet. These briefings were conducted both by the manufacturer and by the Royal Australian Air Force, which has the aircraft in its inventory.

Parliamentary Defense Committee chairman Julian Lewis MP sent a letter to minister for defense procurement Guto Bebb claiming it would be “particularly inappropriate” if an E-3 replacement was sole-sourced to Boeing, following the company’s involvement in urging tariffs to be imposed on Bombardier in 2017.

This opens the door for Israel Aerospace Industries to offer the ELW-2085 Conformal Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft. The platform features four sensors: radar, identification friend or foe, electronic support measures/electronic surveillance measures, and communication intelligence. A fusion technique cross-correlates data generated by all sensors and is combined with an automatically initiated active search, the company says.

The aircraft features selectable surveillance that is limited to the battle space and other interest areas. The platform includes a special mode to detect and track high-value targets at a higher scan rate. IAI says its fast-track initiation does not allow for false alarms because verification beams are sent individually. This capability is achieved in roughly two to four seconds.

IAI says the aircraft can achieve an extended detection range by transmitting extra-long dwells in selected sectors. The system uses distributed, solid-state transmitting and receiving elements that continue working even when some units are faulty.

The UK’s E-3s are the newest of the type model series operating anywhere, but the military has not invested in the platform. This has caused the onboard systems to become obsolete. In fact, the onboard system technology is behind those operated by France, the U.S. Air Force and NATO, which is why the UK is considering replacing the platform. Procurement officials claim it may be cheaper to replace the fleet instead of upgrading onboard systems, sensors and the cockpit.