Govt approves $580m Wedgetail upgrade

written by australianaviation.com.au | July 5, 2017

The government has approved a $582.5 million upgrade of the RAAF’s six E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, Defence Minister Senator Marise Payne and Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne jointly announced on Wednesday.

Under Project AIR 5077 Phase 5A, over a six-year, three-release program, Boeing Defence Australia will upgrade the RAAF Wedgetails with new advanced combat identification sensors, tactical data links, communications hardware and encryption systems, and mission computing hardware and software upgrades.

“We are on track to deliver the first release of upgrades to all six aircraft in early 2018, with the first aircraft completing flight testing two months ahead of the schedule; a demonstration of the strength and success of the partnership between Boeing and the Commonwealth of Australia on this mission-critical platform,” Darren Edwards, Boeing Defence Australia vice president and managing director, said in a statement.

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Two Wedgetails will receive the full suite of release 1 Phase 5A upgrades by early 2019, which include target identification, mission computing upgrades and increased situation awareness through larger visual monitor displays, Boeing says.

The remaining fleet will receive integrated IP chat communications upgrades, data link upgrades, a new wide-band satellite system and dual-display upgrades by mid-2022.

Of the $582.5 million approved for the program, between $200-240 million will “flow to Australian industry”, the ministers said in their statement, creating 165 “highly-skilled” jobs (120 in Brisbane and 45 shared between RAAF Bases Amberley and Williamtown).

The RAAF has continuously deployed a single Wedgetail to the Middle East under Operation Okra since September 2014.

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“The Wedgetail has achieved outstanding results completing over 350 missions and flying more than 4,400 hours with our coalition partners on Operation Okra,” noted Senator Payne.

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8 Comments

  • Paul

    says:

    Great stuff!

  • Darren

    says:

    The best just gets better.

  • Raymond

    says:

    And nearly three years of continuous operational experience in the MEAO.

  • AlanH

    says:

    Wedgetail upgrades already! That sounds promising. Keeping them at the forefront of technological advancement. It’s already the “preferred” AEW&C aircraft for other air forces. Imagine what these upgrades will bring! The RAAF just keeps going from strength to strength.

  • Derrick

    says:

    Mixed in with the growlers, G550, F35, and P8. We will have one of the most advanced air force in the southern hemisphere.

  • Mick181

    says:

    Derrick, the only Air Force in the Southern Hemisphere thats even close to a match for Australia would be Brazil and thats only on size, certainly no where near as modern.
    Aircraft for Aircraft the RAAF will be right up there world wide by the early 20s, only in sheer numbers would we give away capability.

  • Zarg

    says:

    RAAF: the best Little Air Force in the World!

  • Timothy Hinkley

    says:

    Australia does have the most advanced airforce in the southern hemisphere. For the last 100 years the RAAF has been the most powerful and capable airforce in the southern hemisphere. Also one of the oldest. At the end of WW2 Australia was in the top 10 air forces in the world. And the KC-30 tankers are a major force multiplier. As far as I know Australia will be the only Southern operator of the JSF F35, and have the only stealth aircraft in the hemisphere.
    The RAAF has a compact but powerful force, able to sustain international operations. And a very well balanced force. Able to operate independently or in multinational operations. With experienced and very well trained personnel. Capabilities we lack are a fully capable air and defence industry and limited capabilities in space.

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