Wedgetail joins MH370 search operations

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 1, 2014
A file image of the Wedgetail. (Boeing)
A file image of the Wedgetail. (Boeing)

The RAAF is deploying a E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning & control aircraft to assist in MH370 search operations.

From Wednesday the Wedgetail will take on the role of an airborne command post in the search area, replacing civilian aircraft that have been performing this role to date, head of the newly-established Joint Agency Coordination Centre Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Angus Houston told media on Tuesday.

The Wedgetail will be responsible for deconflicting aircraft operating in the search zone looking for evidence of the presumed crashed Malaysia Airlines 777. The current search zone covers an area of 120,000 square kilometres approximately 1,960km west of Perth.

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On Tuesday a total of 10 aircraft were planned to take part in MH370 search efforts, comprising two RAAF AP-3C Orions, two Malaysian C-130s, a Chinese PLA-AF Ilyushin Il-76, a US Navy P-8 Poseidon, a Japanese Coastguard Gulfstream V, a Republic of Korea Navy P-3C Orion, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion, and a Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force P-3J Orion.

The RAAF says as of the morning of March 28 a total of 43 flights tasked on MH370 search duties had been flown out of RAAF Base Pearce and Perth International Airport, flying over 410 hours with over 104 hours on task within the search zone. 

A JMSDF P-3C taxis at Pearce.
A JMSDF P-3C taxis at Pearce.

 

 

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A RMAF C-130H at RAAF Pearce. (Defence)
A RMAF C-130H at RAAF Pearce. (Defence)

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15 Comments

  • Dane

    says:

    That’s a lot of eyes on a decent area of water. Id be surprised if much is found still floating at all after this long.

  • Alex

    says:

    Interesting site at the Perth airport seeing 2 US Navy P-8 and our Wedgetail parking together at terminal 2.

  • adammudhen

    says:

    First operational use of the E-7A if I’m not mistaken. Or am I mistaken?

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Pretty sure that’s correct Adam.
      Cheers
      Andrew

  • TOPEND HORNET

    says:

    Could the KC-30s be used to prolong the hours of the P-8s and Wedgetails? you would think that they would be helpful in this situation.

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Not able to – the KC-30A boom isn’t certified for service yet, plus the P-8s won’t be certified to receive until the Increment 2 release enters service in 2017.
      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Adrian

    says:

    Interesting that Tony had a photo op on a submarine in HMAS Farncomb, Fremantle and the poms are doing the work with one of theirs (HMS Tireless).

  • Brett

    says:

    Do the Wedgetails have any sensors that could help in the search or are they there just for the command & control?

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      The Wedgetail’s MESA radar is unlikely to be able to see any objects floating on the ocean’s surface due to wave clutter and the fact that the objects are not moving. Similarly, it’s ESM systems are unlikely to be able to hear the black box pinger.
      It’s likely its C2 and comms relay capabilities are what’s needed.
      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Ron

    says:

    Good article & comments. Well done AA for the replies too. Notwithstanding the tragedy of the situation, it’s fascinating to see such a variety of international assets working together, including the greatest asset of all; humanity. Godspeed to all on their missions.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Yes, thanks Andrew, we appreciate your input and taking the time to respond to questions and comments.

  • Wayne

    says:

    The other thing is that the E-7 can ‘watch’ and ‘de-conflict’ the search area [air] and aircraft as well as the ships. A great asset for us.

  • Colin

    says:

    There has not been much explanation of the calculations performed by Inmarsat to calculate the possible route of MH370, but would a “calibration” flight by and indentical 777 help? Fly as near as possible to the estimated route but with all of the NAV equipment enabled to plot the exact course, while Inmarsat perfom the same estimates that they did with the orignal flight. A comparison of the data may help to improve the estimates from the original flight. Then maybe fly 1 or more flights using different courses and speeds until the calculations match. Are there any AA readers who can comment on this?

  • David Swann

    says:

    Colin….I think that’s exactly what they did. When they got the data they cross referenced it with Malaysia’s own fleet of 777s to test it, and it confirmed they had got the calculations right.

  • Colin

    says:

    Thanks David.

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