Much has been said in recent years about defence projects that have stalled or have been cancelled, many due to capability creep or bureaucratic mismanagement. Seasprite and JP129 instantly spring to mind.
The Wedgetail project has also received its share of criticism, but not all of it is justified.
I spoke with project head AVM Chris Deeble recently for an upcoming article scheduled for our July issue, and again came away impressed not only at the way the project team has managed to retain momentum despite the not insignificant issues that have confronted them, but at AVM Deeble’s genuine enthusiasm for the potential of the capability, one that will be transformational for the RAAF and ADF as a whole.
Much of this credit must also go to prime contractor Boeing for ‘keeping the faith’ by sticking with the fixed price program despite huge financial losses which may never be fully recouped, and for keeping sub-contractors Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems on task.
With two aircraft now delivered, the first fully capable aircraft due by the end of the year, and the expectation that the full potential of the Wedgetail’s capability will be realised by the end of 2012, it’s time for the program’s detractors to focus elsewhere and let the project team and RAAF get on with getting up to speed.