Boeing Defence Australia has been awarded a contract extension to continue sustainment of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft fleet.
Awarded by the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), the $901m contract covers engineering and maintenance support, repairs, provision of spare parts, and aircrew and maintenance training for the Wedgetail fleet.
Australian Defence Minister David Johnston said the contract extension ensures efficient and cost-effective sustainment support, and is also testament to the effective build-up of Wedgetail operating, maintaining and engineering knowledge by the Australian industry.
"This is a significant outcome for the Wedgetail program and for the 290 industry staff employed directly on Wedgetail support in the Newcastle, Brisbane/Ipswich and Adelaide regions," Johnston said.
"Extending this contract maintains Australian industry’s involvement and leadership in the sustainment of the Wedgetail capability."
Of the overall contract value, $433m will be spent in Australia, including $275m in Newcastle, $80m in Brisbane and Ipswich, as well as $78m in Adelaide.
A modified Boeing 737-700 commercial aircraft, the E-7A Wedgetail incorporates advanced multi-role electronically scanned radar and ten mission crew consoles for simultaneous tracking of airborne and maritime targets.
The aircraft enables the RAAF to gather information from multiple sources, analyse and distribute it to all friendly air and surface assets, and controlling the tactical battle space, providing direction for fighter aircraft, surface combatants and land based elements.
RAAF’s AWACS capability comprises six E-7A Wedgetail aircraft, a full flight simulator, an operational mission simulator, a software development and test laboratory and maintenance facilities.
Acquired from Boeing at a cost of A$3.45bn ($3.56bn) under Project AIR 5077 in December 2009, the aircraft are operated by No 2 Squadron personnel from RAAF Base Williamtown, near Newcastle, Australia.
Image: RAAF’s Wedgetail AWACS aircraft prepares to land at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, US. Photo: CPL David Gibbs/ © Commonwealth of Australia.