RAAF Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft (photo : Aus DoD)
The Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) Wedgetail aircraft has achieved Initial Operational Capability, providing Australia with the most advanced air battlespace management capabilities in the world. .
The achievement follows close collaboration between the Royal Australian Air Force, the Defence Materiel Organisation, Boeing and their subcontractors.
The Wedgetail aircraft can fly 10,000 metres above the earth’s surface and maintain surveillance over a surface area of 400,000 square kilometres at any given time. Over a 10-hour mission the Wedgetail can cover over 4 million square kilometres.
Since 2011 Wedgetail has participated in Exercise Bersama Lima in Malaysia, Exercise Cope North Guam, Exercise Bersama Shield, Exercise Red Flag, Alaska and most recently Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC).
The project was approved in 2000 with a budget of $3.45 billion to procure six 737-700 commercial aircraft which were then fitted with an advanced multi-role electronically scanned radar and 10 mission crew consoles.
Initial Operational Capability is the minimum standard required by Defence to operate the fleet and takes into account not only the aircraft itself, but also logistics, sustainment, as well as training of aircrews, ground crews and technical support staff.