Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Australia upgrading Wedgetail AEW&C fleet

Australia will upgrade its Boeing E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft fleet operated by Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Under the $582.5 million AIR 5077 Phase 5A contract, Boeing Defense Australia will upgrade the aircraft with new and more advanced combat identification sensors, tactical data links and communication and encryption systems that will further improve the aircraft's tracking, surveillance capabilities and interoperability with allies including the United States and NATO members.

The RAAF fleet of six Wedgetail aircraft will be upgraded in three releases over six years, with support from Boeing’s Airborne Surveillance Command and Control team in the U.S. and is expected to be completed by mid-2022.

Boeing is 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.

Two aircraft 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.

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

The Wedgetail is a modified Boeing 737-700 commercial jet, with the addition of advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar and 10 mission crew consoles.

Australia has deployed its Wedgetail fleet to the Middle East region as part Operation OKRA- its contribution towards fight against ISIS/Daesh, completing over 350 missions and flying more than 4400 hours.

Works worth between $200-$240 million of the contract will be carried out by Australian industry, creating 165 highly skilled jobs across the country.

With an operational ceiling of 41,000 feet, the Wedgetail's range exceeds 3,500 nautical miles and can simultaneously track both maritime and airborne targets.