(Adds details on contract, background)
Oct 2 (Reuters) - Britain has begun exclusive talks with planemaker Boeing Co for a multi-billion pound contract to replace its fleet of ageing surveillance aircraft for the Royal Air Force, the Financial Times reported here on Tuesday.
The decision to move ahead with one potential supplier, expected to be confirmed ahead of a Nato conference this week, will likely spark a backlash from parts of the defence establishment as it has been done without a competitive process, according to the report.
Boeing did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Reuters first reported in July that Britain's government was nearing a decision to buy four to six surveillance planes built by Boeing. (reut.rs/2IwUpgB)
The contract to replace its six ageing E-3D Sentry airborne early warning (AWACS) planes with a fleet of Boeing E-7 Wedgetail jets would, if confirmed, be worth over $1 billion, Reuters had reported, citing sources familiar with the plans. (Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)