Australian Wedgetail aircraft reaches IOC
The Australian Defence Force’s Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) Wedgetail aircraft has achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) according to an announcement by Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare on 19 November.
The Wedgetail aircraft will provide the Royal Australian Air Force with airborne surveillance, communications and battle management capabilities. The aircraft, based on the Boeing 737, can fly at an altitude of 10,000 metres 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.
Jason Clare said of the milestone: ‘I particularly want to thank the team at Boeing for their commitment to this project. This is a very complex piece of military hardware. The project faced a lot of challenges. We have met these challenges by working together. Australia now has one of the most advanced air battlespace management capabilities in the world. The Wedgetail is the big brain in the battlespace. It knows more about what’s going on in a war zone than anything else.’
The Wedgetail 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 ten mission crew consoles. 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).
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