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.”
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.
“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.