Boeing wins $442.8m contract to upgrade RAAF's E-7A Wedgetail aircraft


Boeing Defence Australia has secured a A$582.5m ($442.8m) deal to upgrade the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft.

Upgrades include an addition of new and more advanced combat identification sensors, tactical data links, and communication and encryption systems.

Australia Defence Minister Marise Payne said: “The upgrades are an important step in maintaining a potent Australia air combat force and will ensure continued interoperability with Australian allies, including the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members.”

The project is expected to create jobs across Boeing Defence Australia offices, with 120 jobs in Brisbane and 45 between the RAAF Bases at Amberley and Williamtown.

The upgrades will be completed by mid-2022, the Australian Department of Defence stated.

The E-7A Wedgetail is capable of communicating with other aircraft and providing air control from the sky. The aircraft can cover four million square kilometres during a single ten-hour mission.

"The upgrades are an important step in maintaining a potent Australia air combat force and will ensure continued interoperability with Australian allies, including the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members."

Australia Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said: “The Wedgetail is a modified Boeing 737-700, with the addition of advanced multi-role electronically scanned array (MESA) radar and ten mission crew consoles.

“It is one of the most advanced pieces of aerospace technology in the Australian Defence Force.”

The Wedgetail is a mobile radar and battle space management system that is currently deployed to the Middle East region in support of the fight against ISIS.

To date, the aircraft completed more than 350 missions and recorded more than 4,400 hours with Australia's coalition partners on Operation OKRA.


Image: An E-7A Wedgetail airborne command and control aircraft departs RAAF Base Williamtown, New South Wales, Australia, on a training mission during Exercise Diamond Shield. Photo: courtesy of the Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.