RAAF declares Wedgetail fully operational

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 26, 2015
An E-7A Wedgetail on a training sortie. (Defence)
An E-7A Wedgetail on a training sortie. (Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control platform has achieved final operational capability (FOC), after proving itself on operations in Iraq.

The aircraft has been deployed on Operation Okra, the Australian contribution to the effort to combat Islamic State, completing more than 100 surveillance sorties in concert with coalition partners, and flying more than 1,200 hours.

“The fleet of six Wedgetail aircraft reached the milestone this month, with the entire capability from physical aircraft to logistics, management, sustainment, facilities and training now fully operational and able to support ongoing operations,” stated Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews. “The Wedgetail has already proven to be highly reliable and effective on operations.”

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The Wedgetail also provided coordination and flight safety capability for the air search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean.

Deputy Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Davies stated that the platform provides Australia with the ability to control and survey vast areas, and contributes to the development of the modern and fully integrated combat force envisaged under the RAAF transformation strategy known as Plan Jericho.

“The aircraft’s advanced multirole radar gives the Air Force the ability to survey, command, control and coordinate a joint air, sea and land operation in real time,” he said. “As we transition into a more technologically advanced force as part of Plan Jericho, the Wedgetail will be able to support future aircraft and surveillance systems.”

A Boeing spokesperson said the company was proud of the Wedgetail reaching FOC with RAAF.

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“From development through sustainment, Boeing has partnered closely with the RAAF to deliver the world’s most advanced air battle management system,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“Boeing looks forward to continuing to support E-7A Wedgetail and evolving its world-class capability as a key platform in Air Force’s Plan Jericho.”

Initial operational capability (IOC) was declared back in November 2012.

Wedgetail operations are profiled in the June issue of Australian Aviation, on-sale in Australia from Thursday.

Wedgetail Final Operational Capability
DCAF AVM Leo Davies speaks at the Wedgetail FOC ceremony at Canberra on Tuesday. (Defence)

 

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8 Comments

  • Michael

    says:

    Congratulations to the RAAF on this achievement! What an awesome picture to go with this article as well. I can’t wait to see the Wedgetail hooked up to the KC-30 once boom trials begin with this type.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Fantastic. An awesome force multiplier. I dare say we only get told part of its true capabilities.

  • Billy

    says:

    Awesome news for an awesome capability, it truly is a game changer for the RAAF.

  • Allan

    says:

    Well Done, RAAF.

  • Daryl

    says:

    Where will these jets live,things must be getting a little crowded on the ramp at Amberley by now.

  • adammudhen

    says:

    @Daryl, 2 squadron and the E-7s are based at RAAF Williamtown near Newcastle. There is also a detachment based at Tindal, although with the current commitments in the Middle East for Op. Okra I’m not sure if that’s still the case.

  • JT

    says:

    How was it tested over Iraq? There is no enemy air traffic to monitor. Monitoring friendly aircraft is hardly a test for operational readiness. Planned exercises are just that, planned. Just asking.

  • Michael

    says:

    JT,

    I wouldn’t completely discount that as not happening. The Iranians are known to be operating against ISIS in their own little sector of Iraq, through some back door agreement with the coalition. Also depending on where abouts in Iraq the Wedgetail is orbiting they would be keeping a close eye on Syrian Air Force movements across the border.

    A turn in the wrong direction by aircraft from either of those two nations and the Wedgetail crews would be directing the nearest coalition air assets to intercept. For all we know this could have already happened and we just don’t know about it yet.

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